1. Pull Out All Dead Plant Material
Your warm crops will be the first to die from the cold weather – plants such as tomatoes, basil, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, beans, and squash. But all of the cold crops should be alive and happy through the month of October. Leave those in the ground and continue to harvest them. Many of the hardy leafy greens will survive until the nighttime temperatures dip into the low 20’s.
We don’t suggest composting dead tomato plants, as they are prone to spread disease from one season to the next.
2. Make Sure to Leave Plants that Will Come Back Next Season
Crops that you should leave in the ground through the winter (thick mulch recommended):
- Garlic (should be planted in early October)
- Swiss Chard (it will die back and produce again in the spring because it’s a biennial)
- Kale (it will die back and produce again in the spring because it is hardy and “overwinters”)
- Spinach (like kale, if it was planted in the fall it will die back and produce again in the spring because it is hardy and “overwinters”)
- Collards (like kale, it will die back and produce again in the spring because it is hardy and “overwinters”)
- Sorrel (perennial)
- Parsley (biennial)
- Oregano (perennial)
- Thyme (perennial)
- Sage (perennial)
- Chives (perennial)
- Parsnips, Turnips, Winter Radishes, Beets, and Carrots (can be harvested through the first half of winter when you are ready to eat them). And carrots can sometimes be “overwintered” as well.
3. Amend Your Soil
This is a large topic as always. The best idea is to follow our soil amendment recommendations. If you need help with this or have any questions, please let us know!
4. Apply Mulch
After you’ve pulled out the dead plants that won’t come back next year, apply a 3-4″ thick layer of mulch. The best mulch would be ground up leaves covering your backyard at this time of year. We also have more mulch recommendations in our mulching post. This will help maintain moisture in your soil through the winter, prevent your soil from blowing away, stimulate biology in the soil, and help keep plants still in the ground alive.
5. Disconnect Your Irrigation or Have It Blown Out
Turn off your spigot and remove your irrigation timer. Bring the timer inside to increase its longevity. You typically don’t need to have your irrigation blown out, but if the rest of your system is being blown out, it won’t hurt to have your garden done at the same time.
If you have any other ideas to clean up your garden for winter, let us know!