Winter is Coming: Fall Gardening Projects

Your vegetable garden will continue to produce through a hard frost, which for us in the Midwest usually means November. Maintain your gardens until then by watering and covering fragile plants such as Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplants on cold nights (below 40°F).

Do Now   Winterizing your vegetable garden can begin as early as the first Pumpkin Spice Latte is served up. Start by cutting back plants and planting soil enriching ground cover seeds that will prevent erosion, protect soil microbes, outcompete cool-season weeds, and build up the soil fertility. These cover crops are sometimes called Green Manure and should only go in spent vegetable beds. They are legumes, grains or grasses. Some of our favorites are bachelor’s buttons, field pea, and crimson clover, which can be picked up locally at Mother Earth Garden Center. Continue to water up until a late hard frost, a hard frost is a period of at least four consecutive hours of air temperatures that are below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do Soon   After the first frost cut down and compost spent vegetables and plants. Cut back to 6-9inches (still visible) faded or dead foliage on perennials after the first hard frost, and compost. Avoid composting diseased or pest-infested plants.

Do later   You can harvest some root vegetables like carrots until the soil is no longer workable. Hardy plants like collard greens and kale even like a little frost and will get sweeter as the weather gets cold.
Pile leaves or straw around your dormant perennials and throughout the veggie garden after the first hard frost. Make sure and wait this step out until a true hard frost or your plants may rot prematurely with too much moisture.