One of the things we really like about vegetable gardening is the feeling that comes with shutting it down for winter. Part of that is because we’re really lazy, and we like having a the stretch from November to February during which we don’t have to ever do anything for the garden. But it’s also always fun to take stock of how the newly-past garden season went, and start making plans for the one to come. True to form, this year we got really lazy and put off the garden shut-down for a few weeks, but finally, last weekend, the clock struck midnight for Maple Hoo Garden 2009.
As you can see from the picture above, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in the garden other than marigolds the size of our house. We’ve had a few modest frosts in the last month, so the basil was goners, as was the entire late-planted bed of soup beans (lesson learned: you can’t plant beans as late as we did), and the peppers, which were still putting in a gutsy effort, were definitely on their last legs. The herb pots were all overgrown and gone to seed, and the catnip lawn was ready to be taken up. It was time.
Winterizing the garden at Maple Hoo is a pretty straightforward job — we just take out all the plants and put straw over the beds to discourage squirrels from burying acorns that they’ll be looking for come Spring. We’re considering planting rye grass next year, but for now we keep coming up with excuses why not to. Our biggest concern for our day of winterizing was that those marigolds were enormous — surely they wouldn’t give up without a fight?
Nope! It turns out they were like marigold area-rugs, and lifted off in just one piece. It was an easy couple of hours of work removing them and their fellow spent plants to clear the way for our garden’s season of rest.
The next step in winterizing is to get the first of next year’s crops planted — the garlic!
We put in six varieties of it this year: German Hardy, Bogatyr, Chet’s Italian Red (it sucked breaking up all those teensy-tiny heads, just for the record. So far, we’re not big fans of Chet), Inchelium, Pskem River, and Siberian. This past year we filled one big bed and one of the half-sized beds with garlic, and ended up with way more than we needed, so this time around, we only planted one big bed. We did, however, plant it double-thick like last year, so we can get a sizable harvest of green garlic in the springtime, when we’re eager for fresh veggies.
Once the garlic is planted, we cover the bed with straw for insulation, and then give it a cover of chicken wire to further discourage squirrels. Those little bastards better not even think about touching our garlic.
So now the beds are all tucked under their blankets of straw, with one of them incubating the first of Maple Hoo Garden 2010.
2009 was a good year for us — there were tribulations, for sure, with too much rain, too much cold, and too much blight, but there were also bounties. We lost our carrot and beet crops, and our second wave of beans, but we harvested colossal amounts of tomatoes, onions, garlic, potatoes, herbs, and our first wave of beans, as well as record amounts of peppers and basil. We worried, complained, put things off, whined, and were lazy, but we also doted, raved, laughed, went the extra mile, and thrilled in our successes. In short, it was another great year of growing vegetables. We can’t wait for next year!