Garden Achievement Unlocked

Hey guys, I did it! I unlocked the Prepare the Garden For Winter achievement!

The weather this week has been beautiful, sunny, and mild so I resolved to take advantage of what are surely our final nice days to complete all of the garden chores that have been nagging me. I don’t know about you but I hate doing messy, wet garden work and soil digging while dressed like the Michelin Man and wearing cold weather gloves (not work gloves). Cold weather is often a deterrent to getting out into the garden and getting things done. It is a happy day when I can work outside for hours at a time wearing only a hat, a fall jacket, and no gloves.

  • The garlic is in! And not too soon as I was growing tired of worrying about it. I still have a few more bulbs that I could put in if the desire strikes me, but I don’t need to. I love that everything from here on out is a bonus. I planted Elephant Garlic as well. The 2012 crop did so well that I thought I would experiment with growing it in a few different conditions to see how it can be better protected but also pushed.

  • I cleaned the iris bed of all old, yellowing, or dead leaves and trimmed the remaining healthy leaves back. There was a second iris bed but I pulled that out on a whim in order to expand the Dry Bed.
  • I covered the artichoke plant to protect it. This will be my second attempt at overwintering. Last year I mulched with leaves and covered with a box. That did not work out — the plant was a rotting mess by spring. I am doubtful about this year’s attempt, too, but am willing to give it a try.
  • I planted all remaining bulbs. I thought I had accomplished that feat a few days ago but was shocked to discover a few stragglers.
  • I cleaned out the ramshackle shed and reorganized all of the seedling pots by size and shape. I save and reuse all of the best plastic planters year-after-year. It always looks like I have too many, but miraculously they are all used. The shed was a disaster this fall as I was lazy in the spring, literally tossing emptied pots into the shed at the end of each day. I said I was going to clean it up, but the summer heat made the shed unbearable so the mess just keep piling up and piling up. When seed-starting season begins I’ll be able to find the pots I need without losing my mind.
  • I set up the row cover and an assortment of giant water bottle cloches. I still have one final cover to install, but it’s not a big deal.
  • I collected ‘Egyptian Walking’ onions and planted them where I wanted them to come up in the spring. I also planted a few under row covers with the hope that we can harvest a few fresh green clippings through the winter.
  • I cleaned up the back compost bin. We’d let it languish in favour of the tumbling composter. I was pleased to discover that things were active below a pile of debris that we had lazily plopped on top. It is now tossed, fluffed, cleaned up, and in working order again.
  • I cleaned up all of the stems from the Jerusalem artichoke. This was no small feat as many of the stems were as thick as a small tree branch. My next goal is to dig a bunch up and preserve it before the ground freezes.
  • I cut back all of the hardy perennial herbs.

I still have a few small odds and ends to complete before the snow comes — the main jobs being putting all of the terracotta pots of hardy plants into the shed and cleaning up the porch — but I will do that on Friday. My back is broken, but as of today I am stress free as it relates to the garden!

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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9 thoughts on “Garden Achievement Unlocked

  1. I just planted 10 garlic bulbs this week as well.after seperating all the garlic bulbs from the main bulb we put them in a glass of water for a soaking . Drained them all and placed in a disk and watched the bulbs sprout over the next few days. I headed down to the raised organic beds we have and planted them all all over our 4 x 1 metre bed.

  2. I will never unlock that achievement before the first snowfall. I still have dead tomato plants in containers. My garden is yelling at me to get outside and clean her, but it keeps raining, so another cup of coffee and some baking can drown out the screaming bulbs ready to be planted.

    • I hear you. It can be hard to work up the motivation in the later part of the season when the weather is lousy. So much easier to find that energy in the springtime!

  3. So um… I planted garlic in late November. I live in Western North Carolina, on the edge between zone 6 and zone 7. We’ve had some warm weather and my garlic is already sprouting. What do I do? Can I go ahead and start cutting some off to use, or wait until it freezes again and let it die off some more until later in the spring?

    • Depends on how tall the sprouts are. You can harvest little snips at any time — garlic is tough — but I try to wait until they are at least 3″ tall so there is enough to leave for the plant. I leave them be when they’re just little pokey nubs.

    • Thanks! I was just surprised, I thought nothing would happen for months but I was refilling the birdfeeder and saw the little sprouts. One of them is definitely several inches. How exciting! :)

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