Many of us love the fall. The weather cools and the trees change colors. The pesky mosquitos enter hibernation. Stews, soups, one-pot and crockpot dishes can simmer all day. Children go back to school. Our outdoor workload lightens.
But don’t put away the gardening tools just yet. Gardens need to be cleaned up and readied for the cold season. If you take care of your gardens in the fall not only will they fare better next growing season but your preparation duties will be lighter come spring. Here are some tips for preparing your fruit, vegetable, and herb gardens for the winter.
(At the end of this article is a recipe for roasting carrots and brussel sprouts.)
- Leave the fall crop vegetables—like turnips, carrots, garlic, parsnips, leeks, and radishes—in the garden for harvesting later in the fall or early winter.
- Cover these rows with a layer of mulch and, in case of snow, stake their location.
- Pull out all the dead or dying stalks of plants such as tomatoes, cucumber, and beans. Removing the plant stalks helps rid your garden of both insects and disease.
- Compost all disease-free stalks and other debris from the garden. If diseased, discard them as you would other contaminated trash.
- Turn over the soil in your garden to expose insects, eggs, and larva to the cold air. Exposing them will kill many of them and rid or reduce their populations in the spring.
- Do a light tilling of the soil, working in natural soil enhancers such as gypsum and lime. You can also plant a cover crop to amend the soil. Some of those suitable in our area are barley, winter rye, field peas, fava beans, or red clover.
- Use black plastic to cover weed-ridden areas of your garden. Leave these weeds covered up into the spring so that the seeds are killed.
- Put a thick layer of straw over strawberries.
- Prune summer-bearing berry stalks and bushes, leaving about 20 canes per square meter for re-sprouting next spring.
- Prune fall-bearing raspberries back to the ground once they are through bearing fruit.
- Clip and take in herbs and hang to dry or bag and freeze. The rule of thumb is that only the stronger smelling herbs may be dried, others frozen. Basil, however, may be dried or frozen.
- Pot herbs that do not over-winter, such as rosemary. Dig out only a few of the stalks and roots, then pot and place in a sunny window so you’ll have a fresh supply of these all winter. You can replant the stalks in your garden next spring.
If you take the above steps in caring for your garden this fall, you will have a healthier garden next summer and less preparation work in the spring.
Roasted Carrots and Brussel Sprouts
- Brussel Sprouts
- Olive Oil
- Sea Salt
- Preheat over to 200ºC.
- Peel and roll-cut the carrots into about 2 inch pieces. (Roll-cut means cutting them at an angle.)
- Coat liberally with olive oil and sea salt.
- Spread them in a single layer on baking sheet(s).
- Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the carrots turn golden brown.