Preparing your garden for winter

Well, it's almost over. Garden season, that is. It always goes by so fast, doesn't it? Next thing you know that vegetables are no longer producing and the flowers are dying. It's time to clean up the garden plot and put it to bed for winter. I have a bunch of garden chores I do every fall. It's takes some time, but it's worth it when your garden is ready come spring.

Dry garden in fall

There are a few of these tasks I look forward to in fall and one is the record keeping, actually. This is when I look back and decide what worked, what didn't and what changes I need to make for next year. I know lots of people do this during the cold days of winter but I prefer to do it now when it's all fresh in my mind and right in front of me.

Once I remove the plants and finish the other garden chores, well...I tend to start romanticizing the garden and looking through rose colored glasses for next year! lol Do you do this too?  

Now on to the fall garden chores! Most of what needs to be completed is a matter of cleaning up and covering up. This is how I like to prepare my garden for winter:

How to propagate herbs from cuttings

I'm a little sad as the garden winds down for the year. I'll miss having fresh fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers all winter long. I do like to grow houseplants though and luckily many herbs and flowers can grow indoors with very little effort....which is great because I honestly put basil in everything!

Herbs growing roots in water

The best part about growing herbs from cuttings though, is that they are ready to use so much more quickly than if you grow from seed! Plus then I don't feel so bad when the frost takes my herb plants away, since they can live on inside the house!

We've talked about growing herbs and greens using a Hydroponics garden. I use mine every winter and just love having fresh lettuce for winter salads. It can be expensive when getting started though, so it's not for everyone.

I also grow Coleus indoors as a houseplant to bring some color into my plant collection in winter! It seriously a sea of green inside my house, so I need that color to liven things up! 

Make your own Apple Butter!

As the harvest rolls in from the garden (and farmers market) it quickly becomes apparent that we just cannot consume all these fruits and vegetables right now! Some things are very simple to freeze for later but others need a bit more processing for long term storage. Like apples. Every year I make apple butter to use up some of the excess apples before they go bad.

Apple butter, homemade on toast

Apple butter is the very first thing I ever canned as it is one of the simplest preserves to make. All you really need is apples, sugar, lemon juice and some spices. It's pretty much an applesauce that's been cooked down to a thick preserve.

It's also really easy to water bath can apple butter, so if you're new to's a great way to get started without investing a ton of money.

How to grow morning glories

When I was young, one of my favorite things about visiting my grandparents was the flowers that grew along the fence between their yard and the next. They had planted morning glories and brand new, beautiful, big flowers opened up every single morning. The vine grew so thickly that sometimes you couldn't see through the chain link fence at all! They were glorious!

Growing morning glories

It was one of the very first flowers I planted at my first house. I planted them by the fence exactly once and never had to plant them again! They came back on their own each year after that. At my current house I have them under the front porch so they grow up and across it. Each vine produces hundreds of flowers per season.

When do morning glories bloom?

Morning glories are a fast growing climbing vine with a literal ton of blooms that open super early in the morning and close around mid-day. You'll have to wake up before dawn to see the morning glory flowers opening!

Morning glory is the common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the Convolvulaceae family. They were first grown in China for medicinal uses. The morning glory gets it's name because the flowers start to open before dawn.

These are not to be confused with the 4 O'clock flower who's flowers open around late afternoon each day, and the blooms close and die by morning. Or the Moonflower which doesn't even open till evening.

Have you grown ground cherries yet?

I talk a lot about growing vegetables and herbs but did you know that I grow quite a bit of fruit too? One of my favorite things to grow every year is the ground cherry! It's basically a small yellow cherry with a tropical flavor that grows on a low bush. Oh, and it grows inside a paper lantern!

Ground cherries growing

The first time I heard of ground cherries I was intrigued. They are related to the tomato (another fruit) and have tiny seeds inside, not a pit like regular cherries. They have a mild almost tropical fruit flavor and they are wrapped in a papery husk that needs peeled back before eating. As mentioned above, they look a lot like paper lanterns.

I first started growing ground cherry (Physalis) because they are so darn cool looking. I still grow them because not only are they delicious, but each plant provides baskets upon baskets of them...and they bear fruit for months on end! They are an annual but will bear fruit all the way up till the first frost. 

Their are several different varieties but I like to grow one called Aunt Molly's ground cherry.