ABCs of preparing vegetable, flower gardens for winter

By Barb Harper and Arlinda McLaughlin
Posted 9/26/23

Winter is coming! Follow these tips from members of the Sage and Snow Garden Club to prepare your gardens for the changing seasons.

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ABCs of preparing vegetable, flower gardens for winter


Barb Harper and Arlinda McLaughlin made this presentation Sept. 13 at the Bronx Club, which has been in existence for 100 years. It was originally a group of ranch women from the Daniel area, but now the membership is diverse. We thought the list might be helpful with what to do with stuff from the garden as fall weather approaches.

One of the biggest areas of discussion was the destruction to flowers, shrubs, and vegetables by voles and ground squirrels this summer. One thing that we can do at the end of summer is to mow the grass short on the final mowing before winter and  trim flowers and other plants close to the ground. We trim our ornamental grass close to the ground, too. Voles live under the snow very comfortably in winter. If you leave vegetation for them, they will come to dinner. 

A – ASPARAGUS – Trim fronds to the ground, add fertilizer (10-10-10 or fish and kelp meal) and compost/aged manure; mulch with straw after ground freezes.

B – BEANS – Freeze or can beans; to reheat frozen beans I put them in the oven at 400º and roast lightly.

B – BEETS – Pull before a hard frost (in the 20s), wash and dry completely, store in fridge in a perforated bag, make pickled beets.

B – BROCCOLI – Harvest side shoots before hard frost (low 20s).

B – BROTH – Use immature corn cobs, celery leaves, winter onions, carrots to make vegetable broth.

B – BRUSSELS SPROUTS – Harvest sprouts before a hard frost (low 20s); they freeze well.

B – BULBS – Trim. Fertilize in spring with bone meal and blood meal as leaves start to emerge.

C – CABBAGE – Harvest, trim, dry completely to store in fridge; great for making kimchi and kraut.

C – CARROTS – Pull before a hard frost (in the 20s), wash and dry completely, store in fridge in a perforated bag, can be stored in sand in a cold place (Butler Hilton), or can be stored in the ground until November covered with deep straw mulch (Cassy Johnston).

C – CELERY – Cut stalks, trim; use leaves for broth, chop and freeze celery stalks.

C – CORN – Harvest and can corn relish, trim kernels off cob, freeze kernels, make broth from cobs.

C – COMFREY – Trim and add comfrey leaves to compost (great source of potassium).

C – CUCUMBERS – Pick mature cucumbers and make bread and butter pickles; pick immature cucumbers to make mini refrigerator dill pickles.

C – COMPOST – Turn compost pile before winter; start a second compost (I start a new one in spring, too).

D – DAIKON – Make pickled Daikon.

E – EFFORT – Takes lots!

F – FENNEL – Pull, trim and refrigerate (does not store for very long).

F – FLOWERS – Trim perennial flowers (to discourage vole activity), fertilize with 1 tablespoon blood meal and 1 tablespoon bone meal around each plant.

F – FRUIT – Can and/or freeze peaches, berries, pears, plums from local fruit stands, Utah, Colorado.

G – GARLIC – Harvest garlic planted last fall, trim and store in cool place; use some of the largest cloves to replant garlic before October.

H – HERBS – Harvest annual and perennial herbs; dry or freeze harvest,  trim chives and lovage and add trimmings to compost.

H – HORSERADISH – Trim leaves after digging roots for grinding; leave plants.

I – IF at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

J –  JUST because it works for someone else, it may not work for you.

K – KALE – harvest leaves before frost below 20 degrees, wash and dry, they store well in frig for 2-3 weeks

K – KOHLRABI – Pull before a light frost (low 30s), trim, wash and dry completely; store in frigde in a perforated bag.

L – LEEKS – Pull before low 20s. Trim, chop and sauté with garlic and onion and freeze for winter soups – fresh leeks do not store for more than about a week.

L – LOVE the flowers.

M – MANURE – Add composted manure in the fall.

N – NOTES – Keep records of successes and changes to make.

O – ONIONS – Harvest storage onions, let them dry in cool place; trim leaves and end roots, store in a cool place; harvest winter onion bulbets and replant for spring scallions.

P – PEAS – Harvest peas before frost (pea pods are very frost sensitive), freeze leftovers.

P – PEPPERS – Harvest, can or freeze pickled peppers, pepper relish.

P – PLAN for next spring – keep records.

P – POTATOES – Dig potatoes before light frost (tubers are very frost sensitive); store covered completely in dry cool location.

Q – QUESTIONS – Check with local gardeners.


R – RHUBARB – Trim plants, fertilize with 10-10-10 or compost/aged manure.

R – RUTABAGA – Pull, trim, wash and dry completely, store in perforated bag in fridge.

S – SAGE AND SNOW GARDEN CLUB – 40 years old - $10 annual membership – 112 members.

S – SPINACH – Trim plants, blanch, chop, freeze for winter casseroles.

S – STRAW – Get it from Matt David, use it to mulch, save it in spring and use it in the compost.

S – STRAWBERRIES – DON’T TRIM PLANTS UNTIL SPRING! FERTILIZE WITH A 10-10-10 IN FALL. Mulch with thick layer of straw after ground freezes.

T – TOMATOES – Completely trim plants back to only branches that have green or ripening tomatoes to force ripening, reduce water at the same time.

T – TURNIPS – Pull, trim, wash and dry completely, store in perforated bag in fridge.

U – USE fencing to keep away the critters and trim plants so voles can’t nest.

V – VIOLAS – Arlinda’s favorite flower in honor of her mother – first to emerge in spring and last to disappear in fall.

W – WORM CASTINGS – Make a note or let Arlinda know if you want to order them in spring.

X – XTRA SPECIAL GIFTS FROM OUR CREATOR – Gratitude for what we have.

Y – YOGA – Practice yoga and strength training to stay strong and flexible to continue gardening.

Z – ZUCCHINI – Harvest, make zucchini bread, cake, cookies, relish.

Z – ZZZs – Days get shorter and nights get longer.