From your farmers at Oregon's Wild Harvest, here are some tried and true tips to help safely tuck your home garden away for winter:
- Plant Garlic! One of the most widely used medicinals in the world, Garlic is good to plant late September to early October and is so satisfying to harvest the following summer.
- Now is a great time to begin harvesting/curing storage crops for the winter as well like potatoes, squash and assorted root veggies. Keep it chilly and dark when storing for best results.
- Pull up pepper plants that have not fully matured and hang them in a dry, well-ventilated area. They will continue to ripen to an extent and can be dried for long-term storage. Same can often be said for tomatoes.
- Home gardeners can plant cover crops, too! Although we often think of this as a farming practice, this thoughtful gesture serves the same purpose in your garden. Cover crops provide food and habitat for pollinators, suppress weeds, build soil health by adding organic matter and nutrients, help break up hard ground and prevent erosion. We like a good combination of a cereal grain like oats (because the crop residue breaks down better in the spring) and a legume like crimson clover or winter pea. Fall cover crops can be planted where they will grow a little, survive through the winter, then begin growing again in the spring. If you have them in a raised bed, they need to be incorporated into the soil and allowed to decompose a bit prior to planting.
- Trimming/pruning perennials. Fall is when we trim and harvest a multitude of perennials: Echinacea, Valerian, Astragalus, Licorice, Comfrey, Yarrow, Wormwood, Feverfew, St. John's Wort, Skullcap, Lemon Balm, Catnip, Mint, Nettle, Marshmallow and Dandelion, to name a few. All plant materials left over after harvest, prunings, even weeds (as long they haven't gone to seed), are great to build a compost pile. Later on, use this compost to increase microbial life, providing your garden with extra-rich, homegrown material, where you will surely grow happy plants full of vitality! May the circle be unbroken.