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The end of August is upon us and summer, though still holding on, feels like it’s over. The nights are cool and the days are shorter. I’ve started to harvest some veggies from the garden, even though with another shitty year there haven’t been many to choose from. Usually I’m busy canning and freezing veggies right now, but without many veggies to do anything with, I’ve already dove into my cleaning routine. Now’s the time to start getting your garden ready and prepped for the fall/winter!
My deck is littered with pots that used to have flowers or cucumbers in them and now just look like sad, brown messes. Dump the dead flower pots into the compost (unless there was some sort of fungus/disease on your plants before. If you’re not sure why they died dump into the garbage just to be safe), rinse out your pots…or, if you’re like me, just don’t, and put them away neatly.
I always say I’ll put things away perfectly and neatly with a little bow, but then winter shows up early and I just throw everything onto a shelf and be done with it only to curse myself come spring. This year, I’m going to put things away and keep it perfectly organized for next year…unless it snows soon. Which it could.
For the last time of the year! Whether you weed every day, or wait until just before frost hits, weed that garden before fall really shows up! Now that plants are dying back, the weeds aren’t as monstruous and can be easily ripped out of the ground. Last year we didn’t end up getting to the garden in time to clean it up and it was a disaster this spring. Save yourself the headache come spring and just clean it up.
If you choose to do so, start your soil builders in these next few weeks. Soil builders are crops you plant in the fall that will grow and bring nourishment to your soils. Instead of planting in the fall, since we will get some pretty harsh winters, I just throw down some straw or compost and till that into the soil, making it stronger.
If you’ve a small garden, or raised garden beds, cover them with straw. The straw will break down and you can work it in in the spring, giving you some nice soil. It can also help protect any perennials that you may have in your raised garden beds. They often don’t do well in pots because they need deep roots to stay warm throughout winter; adding some straw around the plants once it gets colder can help. Whether they make it through depends on the perennial, how deep your raised garden bed is, and how ferocious the winter is.
Plan your Winter Garden
Some of you may be able to keep planting right into November. The rest of you will be laughing and clutching a hot cup of cocoa with mittened fingers by then. This year I’m trying some fall/winter gardening with a little help from hoop houses.
Find a spot in your garden that will work for you to plant some fall vegetables. Buy some hoops and row covers and measure out how much room you have. You can buy some that have a poly cover, which is what a lot of greenhouses use, but they’re more expensive. This one on Amazon comes with options so you can pick what works for your garden and budget. I just bought hoops from my local greenhouse and threw a row cover over…it looks like I’ll need some more planning as the row cover fell off and didn’t quite reach the whole area.
Once you have your hoops and covers, plant your seeds, build your hoops and cover! You should be able to have yummy, fresh, garden veggies until November/December, pending on weather.
Winter veggies: kale; spinach; lettuce; radish; broccoli; cauliflower; cabbage; carrots; beets.
When the season is, finally, over rip out all of the remaining weeds and/or veggie remanants and till up that soil. If you’ve raised garden beds, obviously skip this step.
I have a strawberry patch, but I live in on the prairies and that means a cold climate for over half the year. Strawberries don’t really like cold climates, at least the ones that aren’t wild growing, so I cover them with straw every fall so they keep warm and snuggly. If you’ve any tender plants, cover them to get them through the winter months.
You may also want to start covering up any trees or shrubs that need a little extra care. Cedars don’t like harsh winds, so cover them – but not too tightly – to protect them. I have used burlap sacks and you can buy rolls of burlap. You can also buy little coats for your small trees or shrubs. If they don’t need a full jacket, putting leaves or straw around their base will help shelter their roots.
Worried about pests eating away at your trees? Cover them with pestproof wraps that will keep your trees healthy. My poor trees have been through the wringer from not protecting them during the winter months.