Say goodnight to your garden, not put your child to bed in the garden.
Your garden has been working hard all year, and so have you! With the chilly weather closing in, you should begin to put your garden to bed for the winter. Your plants will naturally pause their growth - because of the cold temperatures and less light - but we need to make sure that they do not stop growing forever! If you cannot start putting your garden to bed right away, use old sheets or bedspreads to cover your plants. This will help protect unharvested food from nighttime frosts until you can start taking care of the following:
Your root/bulb vegetables - such as carrots, garlic, horseradish, leeks, parsnips, radishes, and turnips - can be left in your garden for harvesting in the early winter. Mark where each plant is located so that you can find them easily in the snow. Plus, if you cover the ground with a layer of mulch, it will keep the ground thawed so you aren't breaking out the pick axes to harvest your food.
Pull up your tomato, pea, bean, and squash plants. If your plant is not diseased, compost it. If the plant is diseased, then burn them or dispose of them separately.
Cover your strawberries with a layer of straw (or hay.) Maybe this is how they got their name?
Prune your raspberry and blackberry plants. Leave approximately six of the strongest brown canes for every square foot of your rows.
If they are perennials, cut them back. Most herbs can stay in the ground through the winter. If you would still like to enjoy your annuals, dig them up, put them in a pot, and bring them inside!
Trees and Shrubs
Prune your trees, if needed, making sure to remove broken limbs with a clean cut near the trunk of the tree. Protect the small plants by surrounding them with snow fencing.
Don't Forget Your Tools!
Empty out your containers to prevent them from cracking. Store upside down.
Drain your hoses and move them inside your garage; you don't want to be getting mad at kids for cracking one because they stepped on the hose when you left it out! Store the hose attachments and sprinkler parts in a bucket in your garage.
Empty the fuel tanks to your lawn mowers and other power equipments. Read the manuals provided to you for more instructions.
Scrub your tools and put them away. Rub some vegetable oil on your tools to keep them from rusting.
Prepare Yourself For Next Spring
Continue mowing your lawn for as long as it grows! If the grass gets too long, and then snow comes, you may get brown patches next spring.
Rake your leaves up. If you put them into small piles, and then mow over them, you can create mulch to use on your gardens.
Cover your compost pile with plastic, or a thick layer of straw, before the snow comes.
Till the soil to expose insects who are trying to make their winter homes in your garden. This will reduce pest problems next spring.
Remove all of the weeds. If you have an area conquered by weeds, cover it with black plastic so that any baby weeds that will try to grow will die before the spring.
Add layers of compost, leaves, or manure on your gardens. If your garden needs it, gently till in some lime as well.
I hope that you are all able to preserve the gardens you have been working hard to upkeep through the warm seasons. Take a break for the holidays and say, "goodnight," to your garden!