With shorter days, cool winds and rainy weather it’s time to put part of my garden to bed for the winter. I am sad to let summer with its glorious brilliance go but the soil needs to rest and rebuild. I have a few plots planted with winter herbs and vegetables and will soon plant garlic and flower bulbs so not all gardening is done but the wild exuberance of summer is over.
Here’s my list of tasks:
- Write down in your garden journal what worked this year and what didn’t. Did you have a special type of snap pea that grew really well and tasted great? Was there a tomato that just didn’t live up to its vibrant name? Is there a neighbor who planted a kind of squash you’d just love to try? Write this all down or come next January when the seed catalogs start to awaken your garden lust they will be faded memories.
- Clean up the beds and remove the vegetation. If you have a super hot compost pile then you can compost your garden waste. If you don’t then it’s probably a good idea to put potato and tomato plants, weeds with seeds and so on in the clean green container to be hauled off. If you’ve had any kind of disease problem with your vegetables or fruit be sure to pick up and dispose of all fallen fruit and leaves. It’s also good to rotate your crops and not plant the same thing in the same spot each year.
- Bring in your garden tools, tomato cages and empty containers. Clean the soil off, sharpen tools and store inside so they will last longer. If you don’t have room inside then put them in an area where they will stay dry and out of the reach of animals. I oiled all my tools and handles one year with some old coconut oil and was really surprised in the spring to see that some animal had carefully gnawed off all the oil on the handles leaving pocked rough wood behind.
- Plant garlic and flower bulbs.
- Repot and bring inside any geraniums or other houseplants that have been out on summer break. You can pot up some herbs to bring in too; oregano, chives bay and sage usually do well inside.
- Test and amend your soil. If you do this now you will be all set for spring. I usually work some manure and compost into the top layers so they can break down over the winter.
- Plant a cover crop. A cover crop both protects your soil from punishing winter rains and builds up nutrients.
- Sit back, have a warm cup of tea and enjoy your neat and tidy garden.