Wintering My Garden

Zeedman

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Well, the hard freeze finally came last night... everything is dead now except the chard, which will be harvested when the garden dries out a little.

The late freeze, welcome though it is, is always a mixed blessing. If the garden is still producing (it was) then the extra time means a longer, larger harvest - and more to share. But it also means a delay in cleaning up the garden & prepping it for Winter. For me, that means preparing & planting the garlic bed, taking down trellises & cages, and mowing all vegetation. Weather permitting, that also means turning under chopped leaves collected from my & my neighbors' yards, along with wood ashes & charcoal from the fire pit.

The freeze is always a bittersweet moment. I garden vertically as much as possible, both to discourage deer from jumping the fence, and to keep as much as possible out of the reach of my often heavy rodent population. This has the effect of creating a tall, dense jungle in late summer, and I really enjoy squeezing through the vegetation when harvesting. It is a peaceful world within a world, surrounded by both beauty and bounty.
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So when the freeze kills everything, I miss that jungle. Especially this year, when I am also missing the Jane who shared that jungle with me for so many wonderful years. :(
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Jane23

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Well, the hard freeze finally came last night... everything is dead now except the chard, which will be harvested when the garden dries out a little.

The late freeze, welcome though it is, is always a mixed blessing. If the garden is still producing (it was) then the extra time means a longer, larger harvest - and more to share. But it also means a delay in cleaning up the garden & prepping it for Winter. For me, that means preparing & planting the garlic bed, taking down trellises & cages, and mowing all vegetation. Weather permitting, that also means turning under chopped leaves collected from my & my neighbors' yards, along with wood ashes & charcoal from the fire pit.

The freeze is always a bittersweet moment. I garden vertically as much as possible, both to discourage deer from jumping the fence, and to keep as much as possible out of the reach of my often heavy rodent population. This has the effect of creating a tall, dense jungle in late summer, and I really enjoy squeezing through the vegetation when harvesting. It is a peaceful world within a world, surrounded by both beauty and bounty.
View attachment 52714 View attachment 52716

So when the freeze kills everything, I miss that jungle. Especially this year, when I am also missing the Jane who shared that jungle with me for so many wonderful years. :(
View attachment 52715
We just had our second "soft" freeze (it was only around 30 degrees). I will harvest the last of the tomatoes if they aren't too mushy today. There is still kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, broccoli, beans, and peas in the garden, so there are a few things that will not die back with the cold.

I did harvest some of my herbs yesterday. My basil is blooming again, so I wonder if it is reacting to the colder weather. Of course, the last time was in June. I still have some straw I can put over plants that need it. I haven't completely covered my strawberry plant, as it has been sunny and warm. I also don't know how much work it will be to clean up in the spring yet, so I am reluctant to spread it everywhere.

I hope you can get what you can out of your garden before the snow hits!
 

Jane23

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I think I read this article last year. I will cover it and see how well it survives the winter. It did survive the -40 temperatures we had last year with -60 windchill, and I did not get a chance to cover it.
 

ducks4you

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Cut it, put it on a cookie sheet and let it dry out completely, then store it.
How to Harvest Basil
Start picking the leaves of basil as soon as the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall.
Once temperatures hit 80°F (27°C), basil will really start leafing out.
Harvest in the early morning, when leaves are at their juiciest.
Make sure to pick the leaves regularly to encourage growth throughout the summer.
Even if you don’t need to leaves, pick them to keep the plant going. Store them for later use!
If you pick regularly, twelve basil plants can produce 4 to 6 cups of leaves per week.
 

Jane23

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Cut it, put it on a cookie sheet and let it dry out completely, then store it.
How to Harvest Basil
Start picking the leaves of basil as soon as the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall.
Once temperatures hit 80°F (27°C), basil will really start leafing out.
Harvest in the early morning, when leaves are at their juiciest.
Make sure to pick the leaves regularly to encourage growth throughout the summer.
Even if you don’t need to leaves, pick them to keep the plant going. Store them for later use!
If you pick regularly, twelve basil plants can produce 4 to 6 cups of leaves per week.
I have been doing this regularly. I have quite a bit of basil growing and drying right now. I hope to have a better crop next year. I have clay soil, and I think that makes things slow to grow. At least, it seems like that.
 

Jane23

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So, I am very fortunate and unfortunate. There are bands of wild horses around me.


Don't get all misty-eyed about it. They can go nuts for no reason, and Montana is a fence-out state. That means they can make my yard their nighttime resting place, get nuts if they choose and rip the part of the fence down my husband and I have managed to put up.

They also kicked our neighbor's horse to death, so stay away from them.

But, with all the drama comes a lot of free compost. My property also borders BLM land, where cattle graze. I just layered fresh horse poop and aged cow poop over my garden. It is fine in the Fall if there are at least 120 days before a harvest, so seeing as I will not be planting until the end of March (maybe) or April (maybe), I am good.

Cold weather and freezing can help the manure break down faster if broken apart. This is because it freezes during the winter, and as it defrosts in the spring with the rising temperatures, it more quickly breaks down.

So, come spring, I hope to find my garden, if not perfect, at least healthier than I left it this fall. I think the earliest I could be harvesting anything is in May if I can get the spinach, kale, broccoli, and romaine to grow. Oh, and the peas started.
 

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