The Charmed Garden

From Planning to Planting, and from Harvest to Table.

Simple Steps to Prep your Garden for the Winter

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Thanksgiving feast has come and gone.  We cleaned out our garden beds for the last harvest and used all of it in our feast on Thursday, and our annual Chili Bowl on Friday.  We used the stewed tomatoes and roasted peppers that we froze a few months ago, the dried beans we’ve been harvesting since August, every last onion, the pickled peppers and the last of the roasted beets.  Oh we had so much fun cooking and eating.

Here’s Mom with the last last last bunch of onions from the beds at the Community Garden.  We did our final clean up just a couple of weeks ago. It was a beautiful day, sunny and the in the 50’s in November!! It had rained the night before so the picking was easy.


AND  we ended the way we started, with tidy gorgeous piles of dirt.


There’s still a few things left to do in the garden before a hard winter hits. Fortunately we have very mild temps, for Chicago that is.  Which means, if you haven’t gotten to it yet, there’s still time to tidy up and cover up your garden beds.

Here is a handy little list of what you need to do to get your Garden Ready for Winter.

  • Clean up any rotting fruits and veggies if you haven’t already, and add them to the compost heap.
  • Do one last weeding. Those little buggers will over winter and take off quicker in the spring than anything new you put in the ground.
  • Don’t cut back ornamental grasses. Cutting them back can expose the roots to rotting and besides, they look beautiful in the winter and  provide food and shelter for the birds.
  • Check perennials, bushes, and trees that you put in this past year, especially those you planted in the fall. Water them if needed, and make sure they’re covered with three of inches of mulch. This should protect them from the freeze thaw cycle that causes root heaving in the colder months.
  • Do not rake up all your leaves. Keep in mind that leaves fall because Mother Nature wants them on the ground. We need beneficial bugs and animals for healthy soil and the leaves provide food and a place for them to live. You can mulch the leaves into your lawn just by mowing them. You can also rake leaves over your garden beds and compost them. If you just have more leaves than you can use, then go ahead and rake them. Don’t blow them out on to the street. That’s just nasty. The leaves will clog the sewer drains and cause flooding.
  • Leave up perennials and herbs for the winter to provide food for birds, and of course, they look really cool covered in snow.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  I for one am hoping the snow waits until Christmas, or the day after.

Author: Laurine M. Byrne

I received my certification as a Landscape Designer from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois and I received my horticulture education through classes at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois and through the master gardener program at Univ of Illinois Extension. In my designs, I love mixing veggies and herbs with native perennials and flowering bushes as you can see from the pictures of my own yard. I love creating gardens for people who like to garden, not just installing traditional landscaping, but actually creating gardens that the homeowner connects to personally. I love that my clients who thought they couldn't grow anything now have green thumbs, because all it takes is the right plant in the right site. And I really love that my clients become my friends in the process of creating their gardens.

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