The new year is here! It has been a challenge to get outside this month in between rain storms but luckily we have had some nice days too. Most of my time has been spent on planning, pruning, and other maintenance tasks. Here is what is going on in the garden this month:
My peas are still doing well! I planted them last fall and they continue to grow and look very healthy. The birds have been pecking at them but luckily the damage is minor since the plants are well established. If the peas were still small seedlings the damage would be much more severe. I am looking forward to fresh peas in the next few months!
My garlic is still doing well after planting it last fall. Since we have been having mild weather this month, I was able to remove the mulch covering the garlic. The leaves greened up nicely and they are now 5-6 inches tall.
We have two apple trees, a plum tree, and two cherry trees. I have been pruning them over the last month, a little at a time between rain storms 🙂 My trees are 11 years old now and always put on a large amount of growth during the season. This makes pruning a big job. But this is what it takes to keep the trees open, healthy, and productive. I am looking forward to our fruit harvests this summer!
I cleaned up my strawberry patch earlier this month. It was very crowded from last year’s vigorous summer growth. I removed dead plants, dead leaves, and runners. I also adjusted the spacing on plants that were too close together. I am looking forward to a large harvest of sweet strawberries this spring!
December is here already! It is definitely starting to feel like winter and the weather has been changing a lot this past month. We have had lots of rain and on clear days the temperature routinely gets down to freezing at night. Despite this, I am still working in the garden on the few sunny days we have. Here is what has been going on in the garden this month:
Getting the Garden Ready for Winter
The main thing I have been working on is putting the garden “to bed” for the winter. I covered the garden with a thick layer of leaves from our trees and covered it with a tarp. The tarp helps to hold the leaves in place so they do not blow away. Also, it prevents soil erosion and leeching of nutrients from the heavy rains. The worms will be very happy and hopefully by spring most of the leaves will start to break down into the soil.
I planted our garlic at the beginning of October. We had some very nice weather and it grew about four inches tall by November. Since the weather is colder now it has slowed its growth. I mulched around the garlic shoots with leaves. Since I covered much of my garden with a tarp over the winter, I put some overturned buckets and a crate over my garlic so the tarp (and heavy rainwater) would not be sitting directly on the plants. I will uncover them in the early spring when temperature warm and growth begins.
My peas are still doing great! They are about 12-18 tall now and very healthy. Yesterday we had temperatures in the high 20’s and a hard frost. The peas looked fine as soon as the frost melted later in the day. Although peas should be hardy down to about 20 degrees, I will cover them with a blanket if the temperatures get down to the mid-20’s or below because I do not want to chance any damage. I am looking forward to earlier peas in the spring!
Our carrots are one of the few crops still in the ground. We have just a few carrots left this season, which is a real treat. Storing them in the ground has kept them crisp and crunchy. It is nice knowing that I can go outside and dig some fresh carrots whenever I need them!
My blackberries have gone dormant for the winter and have lost some of their leaves. We had some strong winds that blew the canes off of their trellis so I had to go outside and carefully wrap the canes back around the wires.
Several weeks ago I decided to start a few new blackberry plants, so I allowed them to root both in a pot and in a new area in my planting bed. You can read more about propagating blackberries here.
Our raspberries have stopped growing for the year and they have lost most of their leaves. I planted them a year and a half ago as an experiment and they took off and did much better than expected! I do not have a permanent trellis for them yet (one of my projects for next year!) so I put them in tomato cages to keep the canes off of the ground. That seems to do the job, although they do not look too pretty. I pruned away some of the excess shoots as I was putting them in the tomato cages so the plants are not overcrowded. The raspberries look very healthy and I am looking forward to a large harvest next summer!
It has been a slower month around here and nice to finish up some last gardening chores for the year. Have you been doing anything in your garden this December? Let me know in the comments below!
The weather is getting COLD! We had our first freeze here in Oregon at the end of October, which is about a month ahead of schedule. I have been preparing my garden for the winter and finishing up for the year. Here’s what’s happening in the garden this month:
Carrots are one of the few crops still in the ground. We have quite a few carrots left this season, which is a real treat. I like to leave them in the ground because it acts like a big refrigerator, keeping them crisp and crunchy to use over the winter. Although the tops are starting to die back, the roots are big and healthy. It is nice knowing that I can go outside and dig some fresh carrots whenever I need them!
I planted our garlic at the beginning of October. We had some very nice weather and it has green shoots that are already a few inches tall! Next year I will plant it a little later to prevent this because the green shoots make the bulbs more susceptible to winter injury. I will continue to mulch around them with leaves to insulate and protect them over the winter.
My peas are doing great! They are about a foot tall now and very healthy. The slugs and snails have been bothering them a little so I have been putting some slug bait out to take care of the problem. I will mulch around them as soon as the weather gets colder. I am looking forward to earlier peas next year!
We had so much fun this year growing popcorn! We harvested it last month and then let the cobs dry in the garage for a few weeks before removing the kernels. My kids enjoyed helping with this part!
Since the seeds were still not all of the way dry yet, I spread them out on a big pan and set them on top of the cabinets where they would not be disturbed so they could continue to dry. I tested a few kernels every few days until they popped well. Then I transferred them to pint jars for longer term storage.
We got around 4 cups of popcorn kernels from our small 4 x 4 inch raised bed, which does not include the 10 or so ears that we saved for decoration around the house. It was such a fun thing to include in our garden this year!
Getting the Garden Ready for Winter
I have been starting to rake leaves and scatter them over the garden. I also spread some lawn clippings around to enrich the soil for next year. Once all of the leaves have fallen at the end of November I will cover most of the garden (but not where I have things planted) with a large tarp to help hold the leaves in place so the worms can go to work! As much as I love working in the garden, I am looking forward to a few months off!
Are you done with your gardening chores for the year? Let me know how things are going in the comments below. As always, Happy Gardening!
It is hard to believe it is already October! The weather is changing and cooler weather is here. We had a challenging gardening month because wildfires stretched across Oregon and the thick smoke hid the September sun for weeks. Despite this, it has been a very busy month in the garden! Here is what we’ve been up to:
Our apple trees are doing great! I love having a 5-way grafted tree because apples ripen over a much longer season. While our gravenstein apples are ready in July, our other types are ready now. A few weeks ago I picked a 33 pound box of apples. And there are still plenty more on the tree!
What have we been doing with all these apples? Most of them have been eaten fresh. We also made some apple crisp, which is my absolute favorite fall dessert! You can check out the recipehere.
I cannot remember bean plants ever being as productive as ours have been this year. The variety I planted was Hickok from Territorial Seed. After setting a large crop in July, we got a second large crop a month later. In mid September we still had flowers and small beans on our plants!
I finally had to pull the bean plants after the weather started getting cooler at night. We have been enjoying lots of garlic roasted green beans! Yum!
I did not plant many beets this year. After our radishes were done in June I poked a few seeds in here and there. I was surprised that they got as big as they did! I will have to plant more next year.
The canes for our marion berries are growing long! I wound them around the trellis so they were not dragging on the ground. This also prevents them from sprouting new plants. The blackberries seem healthy and strong so think we will have a pretty good harvest next year!
I wound the blackberries around the trellis so they do not drag on the ground. I think we will have a great harvest next year!
I finally took our marigolds out last week. I saved the seeds and you can read more about that here. Marigolds produce SO MANY SEEDS and I will have plenty to plant next year!
It is easy to save marigold seeds for next year!
I planted peas a few weeks ago and the seedlings are about 4 inches tall now. I usually start my peas in the fall and overwinter them for a bigger and earlier crop. You can learn more about overwintering pea plants here.
I usually plant peas in the fall and overwinter them for an earlier spring harvest.
Shortly after I planted my peas, I also planted my sweet pea flowers. After I saw “volunteer” sweet peas coming up already I knew the seeds would sprout easily. I planted a row along the bottom of my trellis so they can get established before winter comes. I am looking forward to early flowers in the spring!
Each year we grow something we have never tried before, and the kids chose popcorn to grow this year! We planted the popcorn after the weather warmed in June. However I did not realize that popcorn takes 110-120 days to mature, which is significantly longer than regular sweet corn. It FINALLY got ripe and the end of September.
The popcorn is finally ready. It is SO pretty!!!
Ideally we would have let the popcorn dry in the garden but we had to pick it and bring it indoors since the weather has been so wet. The ears were so beautiful! We pulled the husks back and displayed some of the prettiest ears around the house.
We peeled the rest of the corn and put it in a box in the garage to dry out. We put one ear in the food dehydrator to speed up the process. It was very difficult to get the moisture content just right but finally we got it to pop! So fun!
We peeled the rest of the popcorn and put it in a box in the garage to dry out. It is so pretty to see the variety of different colors!
We finally picked our pumpkins for the year! One weighed in at 15 pounds and the other was 25 pounds. We did not get as many pumpkins as we do some years. This may be because they were planted in a little more shade. The kids are already looking forward later in the month when they will get to carve them!
I had to take some of my sunflowers out of the front yard so I made these cute DIY sunflower bird feeders. The birds found them right away and the seeds are almost gone already. It has been a lot of fun to watch the birds out our back window!
The birds love these sunflower bird feeders!
I took out my tomato plants a few weeks ago. The weather has been getting cooler and the tomatoes started ripening much slower. Before I pulled my plants I picked off all of the green fruit to ripen inside. You can read more about ripening green tomatoes here.
Only nine months to go until fresh tomatoes again next year! I am already thinking of what varieties I want to plant 🙂
I always struggle to get peas started in the spring. The weather is warm enough to plant pea seeds in March or so but the soil is so wet the seeds often rot. Then I have to replant the peas and the snails eat them. Or the birds. Yes, birds. They pick at the tendrils and chop the leaves to pieces. It’s annoying. And it often kills the whole plant and I need to start over completely.
Now I have a new method for getting my peas started. I plant them in the fall and overwinter them. This solves many of my problems. Since the soil is not so wet the seeds get off to a good strong start. And by spring the plants are big enough to withstand a bird or snail here and there. Read on to learn how easy it is to overwinter peas for an earlier spring harvest.
Late September or October is a great time to plant peas to overwinter!
Pea Plant Hardiness
Peas are hardy down to about 20 degrees, and colder if covered with an insulating layer of snow. Overwintering peas will not work in all areas without additional protection but here in Oregon we rarely have temperatures cooler than this so this method works well.
Keep in mind though that once in awhile the weather will get cold enough to damage your pea plants. But the worst case scenario is that all of your plants die and you need to replant in the spring. While this is unfortunate, you are no further behind than you would have been otherwise.
When to Plant Peas for Overwintering
Peas should be planted in late September or October. The timing can be a little tricky because you want them to get established and grow to about a foot high before going dormant for the winter. They may look a little scraggly over the winter months but when the temperatures warm in the spring they will put on lush green growth!
Peas grow best in the cool temperatures of early spring. Choose a site that will be in full sun with good drainage.
Although peas do not grow very tall, they seem to do better with some type of support so the plants are not flopping on the ground. There are many types of trellises to choose from. I have a folding metal trellis that works great! Get this in place so you know where to plant your seeds.
Step 2: Prepare the Soil
Peas are light feeders. Since they are able to make their own nitrogen their need for extra fertilizer is low. You can add a small amount of compost or balanced fertilizer at planting time but this is not required. Fertilizing peas with too much nitrogen will cause big healthy plants but not many pea pods.
Step 3: Dig a Trench
Start by digging a trench about one inch deep.
Start by digging a trench about 3-4 inches from the base of your trellis. The trench should be about 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. Use the side of your hand to gently smooth the bottom of the trench so it is even.
Use your hand to gently smooth the bottom of the trench.
Step 4: Plant the Seeds
Plant your seeds about 2 inches apart and cover them with soil. Gently pat the soil down with your hand and water the seeds lightly. Now wait for them to start growing!
Plant the pea seeds about 2 inches apart. Cover them with soil and pat down lightly.
Peas seedlings should emerge in about 1-2 weeks, depending on the temperature. Help them find the trellis when they get tall enough. Peas like to be a little crowded so there is no reason to thin the seedlings.
Pea seedlings about 2 weeks after planting. Peas like to be a little crowded so there is no reason to thin the seedlings.
Water the seedlings lightly because peas do not like heavy wet soils. The fall rains will likely keep them plenty wet. Protect them from slugs and snails, especially when they are small so the snails do not kill the whole plant. If you do lose some plants you can poke a hole with your finger and add in a few more seeds.
When winter comes consider protecting and covering the seedlings if the weather gets below 25 degrees or so. If you have snow it will insulate the peas plants and protect them down to even lower temperatures. Make sure you uncover them as the weather warms because they will soon put on rapid growth!
There you have it! Now that you know how to overwinter peas you will be rewarded with strong and healthy plants and have peas well before your neighbors in the spring. Happy Gardening!
Our garden is starting to wind down for the year. The green beans are about done, and we just picked our pumpkins. So why am I already planning next year’s garden when this season has not yet finished?
Garden planning starts in September!
The main reason why I do this is so I can overwinter some of my vegetables for bigger and earlier yields next spring. Planting vegetables such as peas and garlic in the fall allows them to start growing and get a good root system developed before going dormant over the winter. In the spring they start growing as soon as the weather warms and they have a big head start on the season!
In order to plant these crops, I need to know where to put them because they will affect my garden layout in the spring. Read on to learn more about which crops overwinter well and how to start planning your garden for next year.
Crops to Overwinter
Peas (including sweet pea flowers) and garlic are the two crops that I regularly plant in the fall.
Peas are easy to start in the fall. You will be rewarded with larger and earlier crops in the spring!
The main advantage to starting peas in the fall is that you can get them growing earlier in the spring. Where I live in Oregon our late winter and early spring is usually very rainy. This makes it difficult to get seeds started because the soil is so wet that the seeds may rot. By planting peas in the fall, the plants will already be established so they can start growing as soon as the weather gets warm enough. Since peas grow best in cooler weather, you will get more peas before the hot weather comes and they stop producing.
For more information on planting fall peas click here.
Fall planted garlic may be larger than spring garlic because it has more time to grow in cooler weather.
Garlic can be planted in the fall or in the spring. I have done both and gotten good results from each method. Since I am planting garlic that I grew the previous season, I prefer to plant it in the fall so I will not have to store it as long before putting it in the ground. This way the garlic is less likely to sprout early or have other issues during storage. Fall planted garlic can also be larger than garlic planted in the spring because it has more time to grow in cooler weather.
For more information on planting garlic click here.
Many people overwinter onions, which can help to produce larger bulbs. I have not done this yet but am eager to try! Maybe next year?
Start Planning Your Garden
A little planning can help your garden thrive. If you start with a good plan your garden will be much more productive!
I usually start by doing a rough sketch of my garden in the fall so I know where to plant these crops. While I don’t fill in all the details at this point but I have a rough idea of where I want them to go so I can get them in the ground! I usually fill in more information over the winter when I receive my seed catalogs in the mail.
A much more complete guide to garden planning is coming soon, so stay tuned!
Do I have you convinced yet? Hopefully you can try overwintering some of your vegetables for an early spring harvest. As always, Happy Gardening!