We’re always sad to see the plants in our gardens wither and die, but we know that most of what we planted are actually annuals that only live one season. So, as they wither away, be thankful for their produce, save any seeds, and pull the dead plants putting them into the compost pile (if they’re disease free). All the clean up you do in the fall will save you time come spring.
First set up your Sun Oven®, combine fresh milk and cocoa in a small pot and cover.
Flower and vegetable gardens
- Pull out dead plants and any invasive weeds. Add compost to the soil and turn it with a spade (or rototiller if you have an open ground garden). Now is a good time to get a soil test to determine what deficiencies exist.
- Trim back perennials to about 6 inches tall, continue to water these until the ground freezes. Cut back herbs and freeze or dry the cuttings.
- Now is a good time to plant spring bulbs and garlic!
- Dig up any remaining basil or parsley, put them in pots and bring them inside to a window ledge for continued use. Don’t be surprised if they become a little spindly at first. Cut and use them anyway.
- To protect cold susceptible plants, build a cage around them with wooden or metal stakes and burlap. Fill the cage with shredded leaves, straw or mulch to protect them from harsh winds and extreme cold.
- Plant Cole crops if your area has a late killing frost. These include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts. Collards, turnips and some lettuce varieties are also cold resistant and make a welcome addition to cold weather meals.
- Leave root crops like turnips, carrots, leeks, garlic and parsnips in the ground for late fall harvest. Add extra mulch to slow the ground’s freezing.
- You can never add too much mulch, the more the better. It acts as an insulating blanket as well as decomposing partially to add nutrients to your soil.
- Continue mowing as long as the grass is growing.
- Remove heavy accumulations of leaves from your lawn and put it in your garden as mulch.
- Continue watering until the ground freezes.
- Review the lawn irrigation system, if you have one. Make sure all sprinkler heads are in working order or replace them. If the ground freezes where you live, make sure to turn off and drain the system before a hard freeze. This will keep sprinkler heads from freezing, rupturing and creating an icicle garden – pretty for a few minutes, but a real pain to repair in the cold.
Tools and Such
- Pull up all stakes and store them; take down fabric trellis and store inside
- Empty all container garden pots and store them upside down to prevent freezing and cracking.
- Take up all hoses and sprinkler heads, drain them and put them in storage.
- Clean and oil hand tools to prevent rust.
- Clean up lawn mower and store with a full gas tank including gas stabilizer to absorb water.
- Now, go to your Sun Oven®, remove your hot chocolate, go inside to relax and celebrate a job well done.
Billie Nicholson, Editor
November 2015, updated Dec. 2016