Winter Garden Clean-up
As the summer comes to an end you might feel nostalgic as you clean up your garden. However, it’s also a great opportunity to prepare for next year to ensure a wonderful start to your spring gardening season.
Garlic is one of those things I continuously forget to plant because I’ve already moved on to Halloween and Christmas, but there is nothing better than having fresh garlic from your garden. There is also the spectacular treat of garlic scapes. If you haven’t had fresh garlic scapes, they are the flower stem that hard neck garlic produces. Trim these off when they reach one whole twist so the garlic puts more energy into growing a bigger bulb and not a flower! Once harvested, cut them into finger length pieces and simply fry them in butter – they’re like a garlicky bean and quite delicious.
When planting your bulbs of garlic this fall start by gently breaking up the heads into individual cloves, leaving as much of the papery covering on each clove as possible. Plant your garlic 3” – 4” deep, with roots pointing down, and firm the soil on top of them to ensure good contact. Gently water the planted cloves and then cover the garden with a 4″ layer of mulch – shredded hay, straw, grass clippings or shredded fall leaves work perfectly! You’ll be happy you made the time to do it this fall because that garlic and those scapes will be worth the effort next summer. Be sure to check out the garlic bulbs available now at Anna‘s on our produce table! The time to plant garlic is from October – December so come in to grab garlic bulbs before it’s too late!
Now it’s also time to trim back some of your herbs before the frost.You can simply dry them out or put them in the freezer in little cubes of olive oil to be used all winter long. You can also dig them up and bring them in the house and keep them growing in a sunny window. It’s a great way to have fresh herbs all winter long. If you buy pretty little pots for your indoor herbs, they will make for fragrant, edible home decor! We still have some sage, rosemary and parsley available for purchase in the greenhouse!
Leaves and other organic matter help make amazing nutrients for our soil. Instead of bagging up your leaves and putting them at the road, gather them up and layer them on your garden beds for next year. By adding this nice thick layer of mulch and leaves for the winter season, it will help build amazing soil in the spring. All you have to do is add the leaves and the worms will do the rest of the work for you. Come springtime you will on your way to beautiful rich black soil full of nutrients.
Also, there are so many bugs, butterflies, toads and other tiny animals that are hiding in these leaves for the winter! It’s a great idea not to put them all in yard waste bags, so those tiny animals have a chance next season. Gather leaves up and arrange them around your plants in your garden beds to help insulate the roots, just not too deep so the butterflies can still emerge in the spring.
It is also time to pick all of the vegetables that are left in your garden before the frost hits. Even if your tomatoes are still green you can pick them now and let them finish ripening on the window ledge. There are also still more vegetables you can keep growing at this time of year. If you have an old window you could make a cold frame box and have a tiny greenhouse – this will help produce kale and spinach till December.
It also is a good idea to cut back any of your perennials. Some perennials like to be cut right to the ground to start fresh again next spring.
Don’t forget about your garden hoses – most gardens don’t need water in the winter so make sure you drain out all the water and pack them away till the spring.
”Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter therein lies the miracle” – Luther Burbank