preparing for winter

Garden Work

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On Sunday I cleaned out most of the dead plants from my garden. We have have several hard frosts and only the very hardy plants are still alive. I piled the debris in two places in my garden since my compost bin is already overfilled. I’ll have to move the piles to the community bins later.

I did not get time to plant a cover crop this year. It will make it easier in the spring to turn bare soil.

After the cleanup, I dug my potatoes bed. I’ve been digging potatoes all summer, but knew I had missed a few places. So I carefully dug the whole bed three or four times to see it I could find all the potatoes. (I never get them all – there are always some that sprout the next spring.) I got a nice bag full. I will have plenty for tonight’s Shepard’s Pie.

The soil was so beautiful and rich in the dug potatoes bed. I removed rocks as I dug the spuds. Another gardener came by a marveled at the soil’s beauty with me. Really wonderful.

My final job for the day was to plant garlic. I’m even later than my usual lateness this year. It never seems to matter how late I am, the garlic comes out great. I have heard an old saying that garlic should be planted on the shortest day of the year. I think that may not be true at our latitude, especially since the ground is generally frozen by Dec 21. But yesterday was a very short day, sunset just after 4, since the clocks went back the night before. I planted 75 cloves of garlic. I’m planning to go back and plant a couple more heads to bring it up to about 100 cloves planted. For the past few years I have been planting 100 cloves. It fills up a whole 10 X 4 bed. We eat 90 heads over the course of the year and I plant 10 (10%)(about 10 cloves per head). Its nice not to have to buy expensive seed garlic more than once to get the crop going. The heads seem to get bigger every year.

10 Comments. Leave new

  • You have been busy – I love to see freshly prepared beds – it is too wet here to do anything in the garden at the moment – I still have a couple more heads of garlic to plant out but will wait till everything dries out a bit.

  • Look at all of those potatoes! I threaten to construct potato towers every year but haven't so far. The beds are lovely with or without vegetables – sometimes seeing the rich soil is enough for a gardener.

  • If that load of potatoes is just the "left-overs" you must have a pretty good crop!

  • Your garden looks super as usual. I Have Never ever plant enough garlic…lol

  • Mee too! Ive been pulling plants for two weeks, the compost bin is the size of a volkswagon! (Im hoping it goes down fast because I have little piles waiting in line to jump in too ; )

  • mishael keller
    November 9, 2011 3:52 AM

    hi, a little off topic, but im new to gadening, and am running into some issues planning my 2012 garden
    1)when is the last frost date for new york city 2012?
    2)im going on vacation this summer, so my garden will be barren for 2 months. i feel its such a waste. does anyone know of any food crops that can survive(possibly some drought,pests, and definitely plenty of weeds,although i could mulch or put down plastic. temp is ussually 80-100)?
    3)as of now my yard is a wreck(weedy)and i dont know the condition of my soil. what can i do to garentee at least some success?

    thanks for your time,

  • Marian(LondonUK)
    November 9, 2011 8:00 AM

    I love having a rummage around int earth for those potatoes trying to escape their fate! Shepherds Pie great that's on our menu for this week in our house too, the change in the seasons turns your tastebuds towards comfort food, yum.
    Marian (LondonUK)

  • Do you plant garlic in a separate bed from where you plant your summer crops? I have heard that you can't plant garlic near other crops (e.g., squash, beans, peas, etc.).

    Also, a potato question: this summer we grew potatoes for the first time. We put the potatoes in the same bed as our zucchini and yellow squash, which were doing well. Both squashes promptly died off as the potatoes grew. I read later that potatoes are part of the nightshade family and shouldn't be planted with other plants. Is this accurate or did my squash die for some other reason? If so, is that soil "contaminated" for next year's planting? Do the potatoes leach something into the soil or just grab all of the nutrients?

    I hope you can help! I've read a bunch on the internet and in books, but no one seems to be able to answer those questions. Katy

  • veronica patter
    November 10, 2011 4:11 AM

    what exactly does planting garlic in fall do? does it just start into growth after frost and therefore allow an early harvest, or does it actually grow during winter and is ready to harvest shortly after?

    thank you,veronica p.

  • For Mishael Keller, I'm no expert, but here are some answers to your questions:
    1. You can find the frost date for your location at this website: But keep in mind that the frost date might be different depending on the microclimate.
    2. No idea on cover crops, sorry. Maybe someone else can help.
    3. You can usually get your soil tested at a local university. I live in Massachusetts and got mine tested at UMass Amherst. Google
    "soil test New York City".

    Hope this helps!


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