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  • Dana Tutela

Putting the Garden Beds to Bed

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

enclosed kitchen garden chicken coop and shed

Freeze Warning Tonight! That means the final push on putting the gardens to bed for the season. Remember the story, Goodnight Moon? I find myself saying goodnight to each section of the garden as I prepare it for winter. Goodnight orchard, goodnight flowers, goodnight planters, goodnight garden tools…

I have mixed feelings about the end of summer harvests and the upcoming cold weather. On one hand, I am dreading the dark and dreary days to come. This Florida girl has never liked being cold (for me that’s anything below 72 degrees). Go ahead and laugh-it’s okay! On the other hand, I am looking forward to a rest from the garden chores and schedules. I try to keep my garden size manageable, but there is always a new pest or disease that pops up and needs to be handled. Currently, that would be armadillos, but that’s a different blog post! I welcome the slower pace and will do my best to fight through the winter blahs. For now, let’s put these beds to bed!

Goodnight, Herbs!

Out of the seven Vego raised beds that I have, three will remain semi-active over the winter. My kitchen herb bed has sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano and lavender which can withstand the cold here in South Carolina. So the girls and I gave everything a nice haircut, added some compost and a nice blanket of mulch. Mother Nature will do the rest.

Goodnight, Garlic!

The bed that had peas and beans this summer (nitrogen fixers) was cleared and topped with compost. I planted garlic in this one as an experiment. I tried garlic once before at our last house and it was extremely productive. However, each head of garlic was a bunch of tiny papery cloves that took forever to peel. Not worth this ginger’s time! I’m trying a hardneck variety this time called Music that I purchased on Amazon. More to come on this experiment as we progress through the season…

Garlic cloves waiting to be planted in dirt.
I made this measuring board from scrap lumber to help with accurate spacing.

garlic cloves on top of dirt
Cloves are in position and ready to be planted.

garlic scapes in raised bed
Garlic sprouting? I said, "Go to bed!"

Raised bed with leaf mulch layer

Goodnight, Veggies!

In my third active bed, my jalapeño plant is still hanging on and producing peppers like crazy. Hopefully the forecasted freeze doesn’t impact it too much, and we can get a few more peppers this week. I'm making Jalapeño Poppers (recipe link) for the football game-yum! Like the other two beds, I cleared the debris and replenished with more compost and soil. Lettuce will enjoy the cooler temps in this same bed until we get consistent cold weather. I’m looking into a makeshift cover for this one to help protect them and extend their growing season. Stay tuned.

Jalapeños harvested and resting on dirt

Goodnight, Beds!

As for the other four beds, they all received a lovely spa treatment. The spent plants and debris were cleared. I added a layer of the bedding from the hen house (chicken poop and hemp material) and a layer of shredded leaves. Mother Nature will compost this over the winter and be ready for spring planting.

Goodnight, Bulbs!

yellow and white daffodils

I finally received my order of bulbs for fall planting yesterday and am ready to put them to bed as well. This will be an experiment similar to the garlic as I wait and see how they do with our orange clay soil conditions and numerous critters. Living on 8 acres with deer, squirrels, chipmunks, and apparently now armadillos has its challenges for sure. Everything I plant is chosen carefully as deer resistant and planted with a prayer that it survives. We shall see in the spring if the daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, snowdrops, and alliums emerge. Fingers crossed!

snowdrops in leaf litter
Snowdrops from our last house.

Goodnight, Garden Tools!

For the finishing touches, I removed the bamboo trellises and hosed them down before storing in the shed. All of the stakes and plant clips were removed, cleaned with Clorox wipes and stored until next spring. I also drained the drip irrigation and garden hoses. Even though the freeze forecast is not a hard freeze, it’s easier to do this now while the hoses are still flexible. I also cleaned all of my clippers with a bleach solution and finished with an oil rub. I will use the next few months to organize the shed and plan for the spring.

I love what my mom texted me while I was lamenting the end of the season:

Now the soil can rest and replenish for next year - hiding little secret volunteer surprises for spring!

The same goes for us as well. Time for rest and replenishment.

I took a few final photos of the garden, closed the gates and said, “Goodnight, little garden.”

White Mandevilla growing on black arbor

black fenced kitchen garden with vego raised beds

black fenced kitchen garden with vego raised beds

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