How to Prep An Urban Garden For Winter.

How is it even possible that I am thinking of preparing my raised garden beds for winter weather? How? HOW I ask?!

I mean, the grass is still lush. There are green beans and peas and kohlrabi and kale and rainbow chard and carrots and lots of herbs being harvested!


The chickens are still running wild looking for bugs every afternoon when we let them free range after work.
  

It just doesn't seem like winter is approaching, but it is. To avoid being ambushed with a large array of things to accomplish when heavy frost and snow hits, John and I are taking baby steps to prepare our garden for the upcoming Iowa winter.

The first thing on our list is to let our plants die off in their bed.
(Doesn't that sound like a peaceful way to go? Morbid, but oh-so-true.)


This means our tomatoes, which are pretty much done for the year will get brown and crispy in their garden bed. Then we will rip them out (much easier than if we ripped them out while they were green) and add them to the chicken run or the compost bin. Either way, the vines will become compost over the winter to be added to our garden in the spring.

The process is similar to what we did with our popping corn this year.


I planted this popping corn very early, and harvested it about 2 weeks ago. John and I bent the stalks over and just laid them in the bed to decompose. The chickens absolutely loved scratching through the stalks for bugs and other delicious treats.


When we get some free time, we will put those partially decomposed corn stalks in that black compost bin you see behind Manny in the photo above. Trust me, these corn stalks will break down and be very compact. That's the beauty of compost!


The sunflower stalks are a whole different story. After letting them sit for about 2 weeks, there's no way we can compost them ourselves. We'll put them on the curb for our city composting truck (awesome, huh?!), and then we can get as much compost from the city as we want for free in the spring.

There are still two beds out of our six that are producing veg like you wouldn't believe. Here's one of them:


I am keeping the ghetto chicken wire up to prevent rabbits and the yard birds from destroying the peas, kohlrabi and green beans. I'll tend these two beds with meticulous care for the next few weeks as I cling to the mild fall weather.


Another thing that is really important for John and I - mostly John - is that I find a place for all of my garden tools and supplies. That space, according to John, should not be his garage. The small garden lean-to is getting kind of packed, and I have a tendency to overtake his Man Cave.


This means the trellis' I used for cucumbers, the stakes I used for chicken wire, and all the other crap (that is essential in the summer, but "crap" in the winter) needs to be inventoried, and put away nicely.


By "put away nicely", I mean stacked in a corner by the rain barrels.


Just kidding. You guys know how organized I am. Simply looking at that picture about gives me an eye twitch.


Tell me about your fall and winter garden preparations! What are you growing? What's on your to-do list to get your garden ready for winter?


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