Looking ahead to the winter—how to preserve your summer goodness in the colder months. 

The end of the summer season can be bittersweet as your start to say goodbye to your garden-fresh tomatoes and peppers as we look forward to cooler temps. Luckily there are many ways to preserve these summer veggies at peak freshness to enjoy throughout the winter months.  Here are some of our go-to garden hacks for holding on to those summer flavors long after the summer months have faded away: 

  • For those tomatoes that are so delicious right off the vine, preserving them by making and canning tomato sauce is a wonderful way to enjoy that summer taste through the winter months. Check out our post here for a recipe that we love! 
  • Tomatoes can also be canned whole, or you can make incredible oven-dried tomatoes (very similar to sun-dried, but DIY and in your own kitchen!). Recipes are abundant online.
  • Did you know you can use the leftover ends of veggies such as carrots, celery and onions (even the skins!) to make a delicious vegetable broth? It’s true! Rather than tossing those valuable bits, store them together in a Ziploc bag in the freezer until you have enough to make a delicious veggie broth that can be used in all sorts of soup and stew recipes. 
  • Pickling is another fantastic way to preserve those veggies that we all love. Think outside of the cucumber box—pickled red onions, cauliflower, jalapenos, carrots, and radishes are all delicious options to spice up your meals. 

Plant now for cool season harvests! 

Through the end of September is a great time to plant some additional fall crops as your summer harvests fade. You can direct sow many plants around this time, including radishes, beets, arugula,  mustard, and many more greens. These plants will have just enough time to get established in the mild weather of the fall, preparing to live into the colder months. With the proper planning and maintenance, you can enjoy nourishing garden harvests all the way through the winter. 

When direct sowing in late summer, be sure to carefully prepare your seed bed. This means removing any weeds, plant debris or other materials, and carefully cultivating the top couple inches of the soil. A loose, fluffy soil will help your seeds properly germinate. It’s especially important to keep the soil moist until your seeds begin to germinate. In some weather, this can mean lightly watering every day (preferably in the morning). As the weather gets cooler and generally wetter during the fall, the plants will require less watering when they become well established. 

Fall greens can be great when you plant a salad mix, combining multiple types of seed together. Mixing spicy greens like mustard and arugula, with a sweet combo of kale, bekana, mizuna can make a delicious and easy salad mix. Spinach can be planted now and over wintered completely, giving you an early spring bounty! Radishes are also wonderful to grow because they can be fully mature in 30 days, and with colder, wet weather they are sweet, crunchy and delectable. 

Covering your young seedlings with row cover can do them a great service in keeping your plants protected until they’re grown up. Using row cover can actually keep moisture in your beds as well, leading to faster germination. When the weather really gets cold in October and beyond, row cover over your plants will provide them with added warmth, extending your growing season even further!

Propagating Perennials

September is a great time of year to increase your perennial plant stock. If you have perennials that you’ve been caring for this season, or much longer this is a great time of year to divide them. Dividing them will allow you an affordable way to fill more space, but it can also encourage the health of your plants by stimulating new growth, and also to control the size and shape of the existing plant.  

Perennial plants that bloom in spring and summer like grasses, Beebalm, Black Eyed Susan’s and Echinacea, and hundreds of other garden staples can be carefully reproduced in great numbers. If your desired perennial is a fall blooming plant like a mum, or an aster, you should divide them in spring. 

Carefully dig around several inches from the base of your perennial, and then using a sharp spade or potentially a knife, you can slice the root crown into multiple pieces. Do your best to leave the roots intact. Be sure you only take so much that you don’t diminish the plant size in its original space. It’s always best to have a place to replant them quickly when you divide your plant pieces, but you can also pass some out to friends and neighbors to spread the love.