Lettuce planted for winter harvest (click to enlarge)
Whether you live on the East Coast , the West Coast or in between it’s time to prepare for the winter. As the days get shorter and the nights longer, everyone needs to put their gardens to sleep. This means different things in different parts of the country.
In the West Coast, Southwest and South where the frosts come later (or never) you can put in vegetables now for the winter. This week I planted lettuce, broccoli, kale, chard, carrots, beets, peas and fava beans. We get below freezing weather in the winter, but if the plants are well established by November, they can thrive just fine over the winter.
Now is the time to clean up fallen fruit, old leaves, clear out the dead plants in the vegetable garden and put everything on the compost.
These weeds are headed for the compost pile.
Mulch your garden. You will protect the soil from compaction and erosion due to heavy rains, it will keep roots of perennials from freezing and create humus as it breaks down.
In areas that you can’t grow winter vegetables, you can still put in cover crops. Planting cover crops in the fall to cover garden beds over the winter is excellent practice—beds under a cover are protected from erosive effects of winter weather. In addition, even if we do not see any obvious growth during the dormant period, root growth continues except when the ground is frozen.
Drying Zinnia flowers for wreaths
In cold climates you can plant oat, vetch, peas, rye and barley. If they are frost killed, they still will be useful as mulch to cover the ground.