Prepare Your Vegetable Garden for Winter: 6 Tasks for Your To Do List

fall vegetable garden

When the calendar flips over to the fall season many gardeners immediately hang up their gardening gloves for the year and don’t bother preparing their vegetable gardens for winter.

This is a mistake!

If you take some time in fall to prepare your vegetable garden for winter, you’ll reap the rewards the next spring with fewer weeds to battle, more healthy soil, and even some vegetables already growing early in the season.

Plus, fall is one of the most pleasant times of the year to be out in your yard basking in the cool, bright sunshine and the slower pace of life. (And as a bonus: no mosquitoes!!!)

Don’t quit the garden just yet — here’s what you should be doing to prepare your vegetable garden for winter.

Frost cloth: The best way to keep your harvests going in fall

Row Cover in Vegetable Garden

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Does this sound like a familiar fall scene? You scrambling around your garden in the dark with a flashlight on a chilly night, trying to harvest all the vegetables you want to save before the first hard frost descends on your garden. You’re ready for it to be over, but you do want to savor those last few tomatoes.

Or maybe this? Waking up one fall morning and feeling surprised by a frosty garden filled with dead plants. You’re disappointed you had no idea it was going to get so cold the previous night. You wish you had known so you could have harvested the last of those delicious sweet peppers and basil.

For some gardeners, the first fall frosts are a relief, and for others, it feels like a disappointment when the season finally comes to a close.

If you’re one of the gardeners from the second category and would love to continue harvesting from your garden well beyond your first frost (that’s me!), I’m excited to share a magic solution with you – frost cloth!

Just because the weather starts to turn cold doesn’t mean you can’t continue to harvest from your garden every day. In fact, I think the fall and early winter months in the garden are some of the nicest and most productive of the year.

With some simple frost protection over your plants you can save some of the crops that succumb to light frosts and keep them alive for some more harvests.

Here’s how!

Introducing unique t-shirts for passionate gardeners

garden t-shirt on woman

You’re going to look really good in these gardening t-shirts!

How do I know? Well, I recently visited my family and gifted them all their new gardening t-shirts. They promptly put them on and we all walked to the park together to hang out on a beautiful summer day.

We kept joking that we were a family reunion of people who love gardening. Even though half the group doesn’t even have a vegetable garden.

They spanned the age ranges of 6 – 71 and every one of them looked as cute as can be in their shirts. See the below photo for proof.

family with gardening shirts

Here’s what my sister-in-law texted me later in the week,

“My new t-shirt is very flattering. It’s my new favorite! I totally want to buy another color ASAP.”

I’m thrilled to announce that you no longer have to be a member of my family to get one of these new t-shirts!

They’re officially available in my Etsy shop.

There are two different t-shirt choices (fitted and looser fit), three screenprint colors (black, white and full color) and lots of t-shirt colors to choose from!

What are you waiting for?! Go check them out here.

Shirts for Garden Lovers

I don’t really have a budget for professional models, and I’m not sure I’d want them anyway. It’s way more fun to take photos of family and friends wearing the shirts.

You know, real people with different ages and body types!

woman in gardening shirt

This is my mom, isn’t she the cutest?

She’s wearing the second design that will be released next month, but it’s the same brand of t-shirt that’s for sale right now.

She’s wearing a women’s fitted shirt in Berry with white print. I love the color she picked out.

Find it here.

women's gardening tee

And my sister! A natural model, I’d say. I only wish I took photos of her in more shirts this day. She makes them look so good!

She’s also wearing the fitted women’s shirt, but with black print.

Find it here.

Man in gardening shirt

This handsome devil is my husband, Mark. He’s been an incredibly good sport in being my male model and taking photos of me in the women’s shirts.

He’s wearing the Grey unisex/men’s shirt with black print.

Find it here.

gardening t-shirt gift

This is me in my happy place – my front yard garden. I’m wearing the fitted women’s shirt in True Royal with a full color print.

Find it here.

man in gardening tee

The Story Behind the Shirts

I’ve been gardening for 20 years and have always struggled to find gardening t-shirts I like. I’ve always played with the idea of creating my own designs.

I’ve even kept a spreadsheet of ideas for phrases and images.

So, this year I decided to partner with women artists and designers to bring to life my ideas for gardening t-shirts I would wear myself!

These are unique designs you can’t get anywhere else. Growing food is my passion and I created these shirts for other people who love gardening just as much as I do.

This has been a fun project that combines many of my interests – art, design, small and women-owned businesses, and gardening.

I know we gardeners are very passionate about our beloved pastime and aren’t afraid to show our love of growing our own food to the world!

We came up with four different designs and I’ll be releasing one a month for the rest of the year. Stay tuned!

For now, grab one (or more!) for yourself and a gardening friend.

Check out all of the shirts, colors and designs here.

How and when to plant your garlic for a spectacular harvest

woman holding garlic in garden how to plant

Fall garlic planting is a symbolic act in my opinion. You’re declaring to Mother Nature that you’re coming back next year and are already planning for the harvest.

The cyclical nature of the gardening season is beautifully represented in your garlic crop’s progression throughout the year – planting in fall, hibernating in winter, sprouting in spring, and the harvest in summer.

In my northern garden in Wisconsin there aren’t too many things that can survive the harsh winters here, so garlic is a super vegetable in my book!

Planting garlic is one task that should definitely be on every cold climate gardener’s to-do list in fall. I’ve already covered the reasons why you should be planting garlic, so I’m going to assume my persuasive powers have succeeded and you’re ready to start planting.

In this post and accompanying video, I’ll show you step-by-step how and when to plant garlic in your garden this season.

Easily grow great basil this year with these simple tips

how to grow basil in your garden

There are lots of great reasons to include herbs in your vegetable garden – they’re forgiving plants to grow for gardeners of all levels, harvesting your own homegrown herbs will help you save money at the grocery store, and adding fresh herbs to a dish can really elevate your cooking to a whole new tasty level.

And if you regularly purchase basil from the grocery store then growing basil in your home garden is a no-brainer!

Basil is easy to grow, smells amazing (like summer I always proclaim!), keeps producing leaves and stems for many months once it gets going in early summer, and comes in many unique varieties.

In this article, I’m sharing the best tips for growing basil, my favorite varieties, and techniques for keeping the plant healthy and producing big harvests.

Using flowers to create a stunning vegetable garden

vegetable and flower garden ideas

Vegetable gardens are ugly. This is a commonly held belief by a lot of people.

Or, at least, vegetable gardens aren’t as pretty as perennial gardens. They should be hidden in your backyard and you should save your front yard for growing trees, shrubs, flowers, and grass.

Do you know what I say to that? BORING!

My house sits on a very visible corner of my neighborhood and my vegetable garden wraps around the front and side of my house.

Every single person who walks, bikes, or drives by my house instantly knows that a vegetable gardener lives here.

And, my garden shows that growing vegetables can be gorgeous and tasty. Instead of something to be embarrassed about, my vegetable garden is front and center in my landscape. In fact, in my yard, trees, shrubs and grass take a backseat to the riotous color and aliveness of my vegetable garden.

I’ll proudly admit right here, my vegetable garden is a gorgeous sight to behold.

What’s my secret?

I plant lots and lots of flowers in and around my vegetable garden.

This is one of the most simple things you can do to elevate your garden from a place where you just grow food to a garden that draws in and wows visitors and passersby on the street.

Tucking flowers throughout your garden will add colorful pops of beauty to draw the eye into and through the space, attract tons of beneficial insects like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, and impress your neighbors because they’ve never seen a vegetable garden looking so good!

One of my missions is to bust the misconception that vegetable gardens aren’t attractive.

I stongly believe that you can have a vegetable garden that produces a lot of food and is beautiful to look at.

In fact, you can even feature your vegetable garden as a focal point of your entire landscape just like I do.

In this article, I’m sharing my favorite vegetable and flower garden ideas to help you create a thrilling space that brings you vibrant color all season long.

5 unique ideas to make your garden more beautiful

unique vegetable garden ideas
 

The first few years of establishing a vegetable garden are focused on learning the ins and outs of growing vegetables.

You’re figuring out when to plant each vegetable, which of the thousands of varieties of tomatoes you like best, and how to tell the difference between weeds and newly sprouted vegetables.

Mastering the details of gardening keeps you busy for those first few years.

But once you settle into the practice of growing your own food, it’s time to delve into the art of it.

I firmly believe that vegetable gardens don’t have to be strictly utilitarian. You don’t need to relegate it to the back corner of your yard. You can actually elevate it to be the centerpiece of your landscape.

At my house, my vegetable garden explodes from my front yard each season in a riot of color, texture, and life. My neighbors stop by often to tell me I have the most beautiful garden in the neighborhood.

Your vegetable garden doesn’t have to be simply a place to grow food to feed your body. With a little extra effort, you can intentionally design a garden that also grows plenty of beauty to feed your soul.

In this article, I’ll share five unique vegetable garden ideas you can employ to elevate your garden from ordinary to amazing.

The beginner’s guide to 15 easy vegetables to grow this year

which vegetable should beginners grow

If you’re just getting started out with gardening, you don’t want to mess around with vegetables that are known as “high maintenance”.

These are vegetables that need very specific conditions, climate, or soil in order to produce a harvest. Even as an advanced gardener, there are some vegetables I don’t grow anymore because they’re just too difficult in my particular garden in zone 5.

Cauliflower, watermelon, and canteloupe would be a few of the vegetables on this list.

There is a range of climates and gardens out there, which means we will all have varying experiences growing different vegetables. But, many experienced gardeners will agree that there are some things that are easier to grow than others for most skill levels.

If you’re a beginner, you want to try to focus on growing some of these vegetables, herbs, and flowers so you’re rewarded with success during your first few seasons. Your objective should be quick wins, fewer frustrations, and an overall positive experience that encourages you to keep going and learning.

Growing your own food is not easy. There are a lot of things to learn. But, like any new skill, the learning comes in stages as you familiarize yourself with growing food and build upon your experience season by season.

I’ve been a garden educator for 17 years and I’m still learning new things about gardening every season. That’s one of the aspects I love about it – the depth and mastery involved.

So, if you’re just starting out with a new garden this season, I’m sharing the top fifteen vegetables I always recommend for people who are just starting to explore the wonders of growing their own food.

I encourage you to incorporate some of these vegetables into your garden plan this year!

Grow great carrots this year with these helpful tips

planting garden carrots

Carrots!! They’re so fun and satisfying to grow. (Look how joyful I am in the photo above!)

When I ran a youth farm carrots were one of the crops the kids most loved to harvest. And, even as an adult, there’s something magical about digging in the soil and pulling out a golden yellow or earthy purple carrot.

In our house, they’re one of the vegetables we’re able to grow and eat all year round. So, I devote a lot of space to growing as many as possible throughout the spring, summer, fall, and winter.

Unfortunately, carrots are also one of the vegetables gardeners tend to struggle with because they can be a little tricky.

In this article, I’m going to share my best tips for how to grow carrots in your garden this season so we can get you on the path to successful carrot growing, and more importantly – eating!

The ultimate guide to the best vegetables to plant in spring

when to plant spring vegetables

The spring gardening season is the most highly anticipated of the year! By the end of the winter, we find ourselves constantly checking the weather to see if spring planting time has arrived.

But, what vegetables to plant in spring can be confusing for many gardeners.

And that’s totally understandable because there are actually different phases to the spring gardening season where the list of vegetables to plant are different depending on where you live and what your season is like.

In this article, you’ll learn about these two planting phases of the spring season, the complete list of vegetables you can plant in your garden in spring, and how to figure out exactly when to plant each of these vegetables.

How to easily and quickly prep your garden beds for planting

how to prep beds for spring planting

Mid to late spring in the vegetable garden is one of the most exciting times! The day we’ve all been waiting for finally arrives –  we dig out our gardening tools and sink our hands into the soil. Ahhhh!

What a joy to be experiencing the re-birth of the gardening season for another year.

Although spring is a wonderfully fun time, it’s also a very busy time for gardeners.  We have a lot of tasks on our to-do lists and everything feels like it needs to be done right now.

At the top of that list is prepping our spring garden beds for planting. Spring is when the majority of planting happens in our vegetable gardens and our garden soil needs to be ready for the many seeds and plants waiting to be tucked into the garden.

In my experience, most gardeners think prepping spring garden beds for planting requires many hours of time-consuming and often physically exhausting labor.

Luckily, I’m here with the good news – you can keep it simple. 

In this post I’ll show you how to set up your garden for easy spring garden prep so when the sunny and warm weather arrives, you’ll be able to walk out to your garden and start planting your seeds and plants, no backbreaking work required.

How to Know When to Sow a Seed or a Plant in Your Garden

which vegetables to direct seed

It’s amazing that a tiny seed will swell and sprout and eventually grow into an earthy orange carrot, a towering tomato plant, or a sprawling cucumber vine. We can’t have a garden without seeds and plants; they’re what make our gardens literally spring to life.

But, not every vegetable is planted the same way. Some vegetables are commonly planted by seeds and to grow others you’ll need to have a plant instead of a seed.

When you’re planning your garden and ordering and gathering supplies for the season, one of the most important things to know is whether you need seeds or plants for each vegetable you want to grow.

In this article, you’ll learn which vegetables require direct seeding and which vegetables are transplanted. At the end, you’ll have a completed shopping list and know exactly what you need for the upcoming season.

megan@creativevegetablegardener.com
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