When the first of November approaches it’s very common for a freeze to be right around the corner. Sometimes this doesn’t happen until the end of the month in North Texas but I like to get prepared early because leaving things to the last minute normally means more chores later.
You may have already experienced that first freeze and if that’s the case keep reading because many of the things, I’m sharing will be helpful in the coming months.
Let’s dive in and learn how I winterize and clean up the garden with natural material.
Beautify the Herbs
The first thing is to inspect and kind of beautify the perennials beginning with herbs.
I like to see how these plants are doing because I cook with them over the winter months. They’re doing amazing and still producing which means removing dead leaves or damaged stems is all that’s necessary.
This can be done by pinching off easy to remove foliage or clipping with shears. Damaged cuttings are set aside into a waste pile or bucket and this process is continued through the garden with plants like roses, day lilies, berries and so on.
All perennial plants get my attention first and I don’t normally do any heavy fall trimming back because I enjoy those shades of green as long as possible.
If you’re plants are out of control you may want to cut about a 1/4 back just so they maintain a shaped appearance.
Perennial and Annual Bloomers
Some of my bloomers like Lantana are still producing so I decided to trim back these back quite a bit because once the first freeze hits this plant will turn a dark brown almost black color. The plant itself isn’t dead but it will need to be trimmed back to the base so it will grow back in the spring.
Since mine still looks pretty amazing I gave it basically a hair cut by clipping stems from the base and where some branch out from the main vine.
This plant grew without hesitation this year; over the summer the butterflies and hummingbirds really enjoyed the blooms.
I also have annual zinnias still blooming, some of these I pulled out by the root and others I cut back and made vase arrangements. I just couldn’t part with the other plants quite yet because they still have buds ready to blossom.
So, basically you want to remove all of your annuals and trim back your perennials on a as needed basis.
How to Dispose of Cuttings
After I took my flower cuttings and made vase arrangements, I had all this debris from my trimmings. Normally I dispose of cuttings and dead stems two ways.
- Let dry then burn and use cooled ashes in raised beds.
- If I’m establishing new beds, I drop debris into these bed and later cover with soil.
In this case I happen to be establishing a new raised bed so I opted for adding debris into the bottom. This frame will be raised about a foot over the winter as I prep it for Spring planting.
Adding Natural Materials for Warmth
I like to cover my beds with a type of natural blanket using materials I already have. When we lived on our farm pine and cypress needles were gathered.
Last year I made my own mulch and this year I’ve decided to use in season fall leaves. This is easy enough because they happen to be everywhere right now so I rack a pile, dump into a 5-gallon bucket and take over to the beds.
Covering the Soil
These leaves cover every raised bed for warmth, think of it as a warm blanket while reading a good book.
This material is great soil insulation keeping the roots protected from harsh temperatures. I place about 3 to 6 inches thick over the soil because they will pack down and eventually decompose. This step is so good for the soil.
Leaves are also added to our berry beds and all winter I continue to add direct compost to all my raised beds.
Covered Seed Starter Boxes
I love my Covered seed starter boxes; these are one of my favorite shop products. I have lettuce, spinach and kale growing in these and even though they’re pretty water logged they doing their best to grow. Some natural sunlight would be an amazing blessing.
These boxes were also filled with leaves and when the freeze arrives all I have to do is fit the lid on top the night before. This makes life super easy!
Winterizing your garden is really not that difficult and quite honestly, I’d rather do this than clean house any day of the week.
Think I’m adding another one of those seed starter boxes in February.
Since we can have winters that offer shifting temperatures, I like to keep light tarps handy. These are used to cover vegetable plants like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower when it freezes. I lightly place the tarp over the top of those beds and remove in the morning when temps are above 33 degrees.
Tarps can be purchased at reasonable prices and I prefer the lightweight variety because they don’t crush the plants. Atwoods is a great place to shop tarps.
Winterizing the garden is just really common sense and a matter of clean up, cover up and protect the veggie annuals you’re trying to keep growing.
When mid-January arrives, I’ll cover the top of my beds again but this time it will be a nice layer of top soil. This is also when I like to animals fertilize and do any necessary clean up.
Take an afternoon to winterize your garden and enjoy the process because it really is a fun garden activity.