Until the ground freezes, or snow covers the garden, I am intent on getting some work done in the garden. It may seem unexciting, because it is mostly clean-up and maintenance. Not much is growing. However, I consider any work that I do now will make the spring time planting much easier and more enjoyable. Hence, my list:
- Weed! The perennials, like common mallow, have been looking very robust in the cool fall weather. Other weeds, such as prickly lettuce (another good link here) are still hanging around in a refrigerated time warp with mature seed pods, so that I have been able to contain them before they spread much. Weeds like common lambsquarters, redroot pigweed, henbit, and common purselane are annuals, sprouting seeds that might have waited until spring weather, so I am torn about whether to see if winter kills them, or just get rid of them. It is a good time to weed out extra volunteers of things like biennial hollyhocks. They are pretty, but they are vigorous.
- Clean up dead plant matter. Year after year, I have heard it repeated that such clean-up would help reduce disease and insects, but for so many years I was too overwhelmed at this time of year to do anything about it. Hence, I may have an unusual enjoyment of being able to do this now! For this and weeding, I keep on hand Kirkland Signature Smart Closure Outdoor Lawn Trash Bags. These bags are very heavy duty, so I am not constantly struggling with them ripping. Also, I prefer the tabs for tying them. The drawstring bags are just one more thing for me to have to strain to operate.
- Pruning. Some branches of fruit trees broke under the strain of production over the summer. These need to be attended to so that the break site doesn’t get ripped further in the coming winter weather. Also, shade trees have often suffered from fall storms. I have discovered that it is good to go around after a storm and see what might be hanging by some many wood threads and swinging from other branches in the larger trees. Some of the branches we have found up there could have broken bones if they landed on someone. Last for this list, I had some blackberries that were out of control that were trimmed back, so it will be easier to get a trellis up for them.
- Plant – I actually have gone ahead and planted some peas. I want to plant more this weekend, and it may be my last chance according to the weather report. Fortunately, the soil in my garden beds doesn’t tend to freeze as soon or as hard as the rest of the yard. Another good reason for all the composting!
- Harvest! If I wasn’t out working in my garden some, I might not have noticed, or been inclined to pick, the delicious lettuce volunteers! I know I have written a lot about lettuce volunteers, but I have harvested 10 times the amount of lettuce from my volunteers as from what I planted on purpose. 🙂 It is highly unlikely I would have any lettuce growing in my garden right now, if it weren’t for the volunteers. Being outside working also makes it more likely I will dig my potatoes and carrots, or grab a leek or onion for the day’s dinner. If I had planted a fall crop of broccoli, or kept up with the picking/pruning of my summer crop, I might still be harvesting that. I did harvest from my summer crop as recently as late November.
Knowing that there may be some indoor days ahead, I am planning for that, too.
- Clean the greenhouse (or whatever space you use for starting seedlings late winter). It is going to be a deep, sparkly cleaning this year, that includes throwing out some house plants. It’s not that I am against anything that is purely decorative. It’s just that we all have our priorities and they are taking up space where I may try to grow some greenhouse tomatoes.
- Grow some greenhouse tomatoes! I bought the seeds when I bought my pea seeds. I have never tried this before…. I’ll probably add some lettuce, while I’m at it. I have those nice grow light stands that Greg made me, that I will be able to reach as soon as I clean…
- Make my gardener’s Christmas list. He keeps asking me what I want, so I’ve decided to be easy to get along with and give him some ideas. 🙂 The trouble is, once I get started, the list just keeps growing. I should probably post it in the greenhouse somewhere for my spring birthday!