Whether we want it or not, but the fall is here… We can definitely feel it. The leaves turn red. The nights are getting colder. And the days are not as long as they used to be in summer. It is time to thank the nature for a beautiful summer we had. It is time to analyze what we did good in the garden, and what could have been done better. We have been pretty happy with our gardening season so far. But now it is time to think about the next year 🙂 And if you are wondering what to do in the garden in fall to prepare your garden for winter, then this post is for you.
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Quick summer recap
We are still harvesting some of our vegetables! Our tomatoes are doing good. Our eggplants in the greenhouse are still producing. And though our cucumbers have slowed down a lot, we do get enough for our daily salads 🙂
We also went crazy with canning this year! We have canned jams, relishes, pickled tomatoes, and tomato sauce. It is exciting to be able to do it almost all with our own homegrown produce! Yes, we did make a few jams with some berries and fruit picked up at the local farms. But we know they were organically grown, and we, in fact, were able to support the local farmers’ community this way 😉
So, back to the garden 🙂
If you remember, we have planted a few plants in mid-summer for the fall harvest. All the brassicas are doing good, though white cabbage butterflies have been enjoying them as well. I have been checking on the plants and hand-picking caterpillars, so the damage has not been too extensive. Swiss chard has also been picking up on growth as the temperatures have been cooling down.
We have also let kale, arugula, and a few lettuces go to seed. We have picked some seeds to grow as microgreens at home in winter. But there were many that spread around and we are now having many young plants growing without us even planting them. Woo-hoo!
Preparing your vegetable garden for winter
Keep on harvesting as long as you can
Depending on your hardiness zone (Canada, US), you might want to keep some of the vegetables in beds to keep harvesting during the winter months. If your soil freezes, or your area receives heavy rains during the winter months (we usually do), you might though want to pull the root vegetables (carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, etc.) and onion family vegetables (onions, leeks) up, and store them in a cool place inside the house.
We had to pull some of our beets up as there was something eating it. We were not sure whether it was mice or a bunny. My husband placed a few mice traps around, but a few days later we got a stellar jay trapped in 🙁 The bird was alive, and we were able to release it, and it flew away. But we are still not sure if that is the jays or mice who like our veggies.
And we won’t be able to find out, as we decided to not place any more traps. I do not want to kill anyone, even if they eat some of our veggies.
However, I wish they were eating just one and whole plant rather than leaving bites on a few making them unusable for us… Am I asking for too much? 🙂
Pull up all tender plants like tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, and legumes. We do compost them if there are no signs of diseases on.
Clean and sharpen garden tools. Some gardeners even recommend greasing them with oil. We don’t do that though.
If you have harvested rainwater, empty the barrels now if there is even a tiny risk of freezing.
Perennial Plants and Fruit Trees
Some perennials require a winter “trim”, but we do leave stems with seed heads (yarrow, daisies, Echinacea) to add interest and for the birds to eat. Tender perennials’ bulbs like dahlias and some lilies may need to be pulled and stored indoors.
Berry bushes need to be pruned depending on the berry type, as some berries fruit on the first year branches, whereas, others bear fruits on older branches. For some pruning tips visit the following sites: Raspberries and Blackberries, Gooseberries and Currants.
Prune fruit trees if needed and protect them from gnawers by applying chicken wire around the stem.
Protect your roses by covering them with dry leaves and piling the soil over the base.
Planting cover crops is a great way to pull up minerals from deep layers of the soil and return them back enriching the topsoil. Please remember about the crop rotation though 😉 We like phacelia, as it is suitable as a cover crop before and after any plant family. We also let some of it bloom in our vegetable beds, as bees just love it! And it is simply a gorgeous flower to have!
If you are not planting cover crops, it is recommended to apply organic mulch to the beds when the ground freezes. In our region, the ground does not always freezes, so we will be applying mulch after we have planted garlic (end of September) and potatoes (October).
We have now added some snowdrops and white daffodils to our collection of spring bulbs. I am so looking forward to seeing them coming up in early spring!
This is how we prepare our garden for winter
Not all of these tips might be relevant for you. If you live in gardening zones 9+, you might not worry about covering your roses or pulling some of the tender bulbs or plants up. You might still want to add an organic mulch to the garden beds and prune your berries and fruit trees.
Please share your tips for the gardening maintenance tasks. If you find this post helpful, please share it with your friends. Sharing is caring 🙂