I am happy to report that I got 7.5” of rain last weekend. While I was grateful for the rain, it really did a number on my garden. Sad to say that I was watching my best fall tomato crop ever develop. Now, I am watching my best fall tomato crop ever split open from all of the rain. Ugh!!! Oh well, I can still eat the bottom halves!
On another note, winter is coming. Even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, your first freeze is just around the corner. Since most of my planting, weeding and mulching are done for the season I will be using this rainy weekend to prepare for that inevitable first freeze. Here is what I do to prepare for winter in my Zone 9 garden.
- Determine your freeze dates – Your first and last feeze dates are probably the single most important thing you need to know to garden successfully. If you think you know them I suggest checking again. Thanks to climate change, freeze dates are changing. Several years ago my first average freeze date was November 16. I knew this because it was my anniversary. I got in a small bit of trouble one year because my wife was very upset with me when I chose to finish up some cold frames instead of leaving on time for our romantic get away! There are tons of tools on the internet to determine your freeze dates. My favorite is on Dave’s Garden. Click here to determine the freeze dates for your area.
- Oil and sharpen tools- I buy good tools and I take care of them. When you have time, like now, give them a little attention to extend their life and usefulness. Wash them with soap and water. Let them dry. Take a file to the edges of your hoes, shovels and larger blades. Once they are sharp, wipe down the blades and the wooden handles with linseed oil. Come spring, they will be clean, sharp and rust free.
- Row cover – Row cover is the one thing I cannot get enough of. Just about anything can be used for row cover. However, I recommend using something that is permeable. I get my row cover from Texas Gardener (click here to purchase the cover I use). I really think it is a good Idea to get your row cover out now. I bunch mine up beside my rows and hold it down with T-Posts. That way, I am not scrambling around to find it and get it laid down in a blowing wind the night that first freeze comes.
- Take cuttings – I have two heirloom begonias and an amazing heirloom geranium that are truly precious to me (and my wife). To make sure that I have these in the spring, I always hedge my bets by taking tons of cuttings. Begin by filling your pots with a high quality potting mix (I use Miracle grow) to within a half inch of the rim. My pots are small solo cups. I use a soldering iron to burn drainage holes in the bottom of them. Once full, water thoroughly and let them drain while you take your cuttings. Cut your plants on a 45 below a node. Remove all of the foliage except a couple of leaves and stick them in the potting mix. I keep these cuttings in my mud room under fluorescent lights and keep them moist all winter.
I share these posts on Our SimpleHomestead Blog Hop. Be sure to stop by. The “hop” has tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!