Time to Look Toward Winter

This article originally appeared in our Fall 2015 newsletter by OCMGA Master Gardener Lucy Valitchka. The information is just as relevant today as it was then.

This edition of our newsletter brings us to the end of the harvest season and preparations for fall. Hopefully all our readers had a successful season. It would be fun and helpful to hear from anyone who had great success with some vege- tables or fruit as well as frustrations encountered in growing certain crops. I didn’t get our garden planted until the first week of June, but surprisingly it has pro- duced very well so far. The tomatoes look good at this writing with few signs of disease so far! The squash borer has not made an appearance in the zucchini, so guess what we are sharing with others?

On the other hand, the weeds have had a ball carpeting the rows between vegeta- bles. If I had one full week to concentrate on weeding maybe that issue would be solved. In the Volunteer Vibe, which I received August 19th, Diana Alfuth, Pierce Co. UW-Extension Horticulture Educator, gave some excellent suggestions about dealing with weeds. I know the soil should be mulched, so the seeds don’t have light to grow. It also helps to not till the soil more than necessary because it brings up dormant weed seeds. I have the mulch, but need something called time to get the job done. I have learned that at this time of year a gardener is almost like a juggler. Weed, mulch, harvest, preserve. What do I do first? I’m a big believer in harvesting and canning as soon as possible. That means the canning gets done before the weeding. My hat is off to all of you who have battled the weeds and won!

Here are guidelines for the vegetable/herb garden in late fall taken from the Madison Area Master Gardener’s Association garden journal which is no longer published. The tips are still valuable.

Week 1

  • Remove newly set tomato blossoms and new growth because fruit won’t have time to mature.
  • Sow annual ryegrass or oats for winter cover and place green manure in beds that won’t be planted until late spring.
  • Remove all weeds from garden before they go to seed

Week 2

  • Remove the growing points at the top of Brussels sprout stems so bottom sprouts will reach maturity.

Week 3

  • Dig and pot parsley, chives, and tender herbs for transfer indoors to sunny window.

Week 4

  • Harvest carrots, beets, and turnips before first frost kills foliage.
  • Gather squash, pumpkins, and gourds when ripe and before damaged by frost. Leave 2-inch stem on vegetable for better storage.
  • Clear garden beds immediately after harvest. Destroy any diseased plants by burning, composting in a hot pile, or sealing in containers for disposal.

Week 1

  • Prepare vegetable garden soil for early spring planting. Remove old stalks to prevent insect and disease problems next year. Spread manure, incorporate into soil and mulch with straw.
  • Rejuvenate rhubarb by dividing into quarters and replanting.
  • Mulch brussel sprouts to prolong harvest.
  • Water plants well for more cold tolerance.

Week 3

  • Plant garlic in rich, well-drained soil five inches apart and one to two inches deep. Select larger cloves for large bulbs. Break bulbs apart into individual cloves. The end of the clove that was broken from the bulb should be planted down. Cover with five to six inches of straw mulch.
  • Plant Jerusalem artichokes. (Note; I have never planted these. Has anyone tried them?)


  • Mulch carrots, parsnips, and leeks with a foot of straw or marsh hay for winter digging. Mark rows with tall stakes.
  • Mulch asparagus bed with chopped leaves or straw to protect crowns from frost.
  • Drain gas from tiller.
  • Harvest the last of the hardy vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale. These will continue to produce until a hard frost below 25 degrees F.

One thought on “Time to Look Toward Winter

  1. Wouldn’t it be easier to remove the entire tomato plants if they are not expected to produce anymore? (Ours continue to produce until they get frosted. Remaining unripe tomatoes either ripen on a windowsill or get pickled.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s