Putting the Garden to Bed

Cooler temperatures and an occasional snowstorm tell us it’s time to put the garden to bed and store the fall harvest to be enjoyed throughout the winter.


Fall Harvest

At my home, potatoes have been dug up (one of my favorite garden chores) and stored away in a dry, cool place.  I have now harvested half the carrots and left the other half in the ground.  The carrot tops have been removed from the carrots  in the ground and covered with 16 inches of straw.  In mid-to-late winter, I’ll be able to harvest out of the ground the sweetest, tastiest carrots ever because they over-winter well when covered deeply with straw or bags of leaves.

Store up squash and pumpkins
Store up squash and pumpkins

Also, my garden cart is heaped up full, with butternut, delicata and sweet meat squash and pumpkins.  I bake and process the pumpkins for pies and soups.

I also like to roast the pumpkin seeds for munching while they last.  One secret to tasty, nutritious pumpkin seeds is to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

Lastly, we’re enjoying kale and swiss chard in soups and stir-fries.  More kale and chard have been frozen – hopefully enough to enjoy in soups and stews this winter and last until spring!

FermentedbeetsFermenting Vegetables

I have also just harvested the last of the beets and turnips and made fermented beets and turnips for the first time.  I learned the art of fermenting  from local fermentation guru, Maria Hodkins.  It’s not to late to ferment just about any leftover/surplus veggies like carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onions, etc without using vinegar, pressure canners or freezers.

Fermentation, makes it’s own vinegar, so-to-speak, which is actually  lactic acid produced by bacteria naturally present in our environment.  Not only are the naturally occurring bacteria beneficial for health and eliminate the canning process, but the fermented veggies can be stored for months in cold storage or refrigerators.

Products to Build Up the Soil

After the produce is collected from the garden, we chop up any disease-and-insect-free plants and add

Add compost to the garden after the freeze.

some leaves, composted chicken and/or cow manure from the barnyard, and spread about 2-4 inches of the compost over the garden soil and dig it in.  If you don’t have “barnyard manure” then you can find Garden Soil Builder by the bag at the store.  Another great option is to purchase Raised Bed Mix at Paonia Farm and Home.  It’s a great way to “buy local” as this product is produced by local Paonian, Bart Ellis, owner of Paonia Soil Company.

Cotton burr compost is another great product that can be used for mulching perennial beds.

If you are really motivated to improve the soil, till in the compost and then plant a cover crop like winter rye grain and winter peas which can be tilled back into the soil before spring planting.

Lastly, winter is a good time to have your soil tested to determine what needs to be added next spring for optimal production.  More information on soil testing will be forthcoming.

Now, let the snow fly!!!!

Winter Time Snow

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