Well, it’s that time. Seems like it flew, huh? But, winter is very close at hand, and it’s so important to put your garden to bed properly for the year. Otherwise, you wind up with a soggy mess to work with next spring. At least, you’ll wind up with one if you live in an area where it snows or rains most of the winter months. However, I’m a firm believer that cleaning up the garden is healthy, and motivational, at least twice a year. So regardless of where you live, it’s a good idea to do maintenance anyway.
So, on that note – here we go! For the record – The Old Farmer’s Almanac is a great resource (www.almanac.com), and where most of my research came from, aside from personal experience. 🙂
1. Before the first freeze (a frost can usually be survived by simple cover – a freeze is not quite so forgiving), or as soon as you know it’s coming, pull as much produce as you can from your garden. Now – don’t do it before the first frost – you’ll be jumping the gun! If you live in a northern area, we tend to get a real good week or two of frost at nights, then some nice Indian Summer weeks before it freezes for good. This is a great time to harvest more food! But once that freeze hits, you’re not going to see any more ripening. That’s it. Curtains. Game over. Uhhh . . . can’t think of any more analogies now, but you get the point, lol.
2. Weed. Sorry. I hate this step, too. Gotta be done. However, it’s nice because you can see up-close where there are any insects or diseased plants you need to pull. While you’re at it, go ahead and just pull your annuals. Use them for compost as long as they aren’t diseased, but don’t throw the weeds in the compost!!!
3. Leave your tubers. Carrots, garlic, horseradish, radishes, turnips, leeks, and parsnips all stay good into the winter. Do, however, cover them with a thick layer of mulch as protection.
4. Till or turn over the soil. Add as much compost and mulch as you can. This does double duty – the compost will continue to break down over the winter, albeit slowly. Also, the mulch/compost layer protects the soil from the bitter winds that accompany winter. It certainly wouldn’t be a bad plan to add some nutrients in with your compost/mulch layer, too. Kelp would be a great bet.
5. Sit back and relax. You’re done out there for the winter. You can begin an indoor crop for fun, if you like, or you can start looking at canning/preserving recipes, like I do!