Don’t let winter sneak up on you this year in the raised bed garden! Use this list of raised bed garden tasks for fall and winter to keep yourself organized and ready for next year’s garden.
For more information, DIYs and how-to’s on growing your own food, becoming self-sufficient and growing your family’s sustainability be sure to check out our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. Written on four different levels of homesteading experience, with over 400 pages of information, there’s sure to be something here for you! Click below for more information:
These instructions will vary a bit by month, depending on your zone. See below for links to zone specific posts from great garden/homestead bloggers. Add a few weeks to this timeline if you live in a zone lower than five; subtract a few weeks in you live in a zone above five. If you’re unsure of your growing zone, I recommend this quick online refresher course:
Raised Garden Beds Basics
If you’re new to gardening, then please remember this refrain – Aim small, Miss small.
If you’re starting this year with one raised bed, then concentrate on making that one the best it can be before you add more. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking that you have to grow everything right away. If you’re designing a garden from scratch, write or sketch out a plan for your raised garden beds. I strongly recommend you investigate lasagna gardening, Back to Eden methods and/or permaculture principles.
Sometimes we think of gardeners as great growers of plants. However, what a quality gardeners is actively growing is rich soil. Flowers, veggies, herbs, and even orchards will grow themselves if the soil in which they grow has a good foundation. Here are several good “growing good dirt” articles:
- Here’s how to make a lot of compost this fall and winter from Schneider Peeps
- Here are a few more insights from Learning and Yearning on building healthy soils
- Here’s a little explanation of the differences between mulch and compost and how to use them
Learning More About Raised Bed Gardens
The best way to educate yourself on new methods? Here are some suggestions:
- Read, read, read
- Find online support groups
- Go to classes
- Talk to your gardening neighbors
YouTube is a great resource these days for the visual learners. The library is your best friend when it comes to devouring print material because you can read a wide variety of books without having to buy first. You can vet raised bed gardening books to see if they’re worth purchasing.
Don’t ever be fenced in by what you read, though. Experiment and try to grow the foods you know you’ll eat. And a few you’ve never even tasted! Be sure to keep track of all your plans and planting schedules in a quality garden notebook. May I suggest this one, from our affiliate, Schneider Peeps – The Gardening Notebook.
Raised Bed Garden Tasks for Fall and Winter
You can always choose to investigate ways to harvest year round from the garden. A great book for learning more about this idea, please read our review of Four Season Harvest which is the book we use on our homestead to plan and prepare for cool weather harvests. Click to read that article here.
To plan the fall and winter garden, if you haven’t gotten around to it yet, read these articles:
- 13 Quick Growing Crops for the Fall Garden from Grow a Good Life
- From Learning and Yearning, here’s a breakdown of crops to grow for storage and how to store them
- Planning and Planting the Fall Garden by Homestead Honey
- 15 Frost Tolerant Vegetables for the Fall Garden by Schneider Peeps
- If your weather will hold, think about these last minute crops for the fall garden
- Also, make sure you know all the different seed terms there are – hybrid, open pollinated, GMO, treated; if you need a quick study, try this post from Project Zenstead
October in the Raised Garden Beds
- As frost begin to kill cover crops, turn them under
- Ripen any green tomatoes you bring in before the frosts
- Plant fall garlic before the ground freezes and mulch well for cold winter areas; you can spring plant garlic, if you forget to do it now, but the bulbs won’t be as big
- Harvest Brussels sprouts after frost
- If your ground is still workable, be sure to get in some daffodils for their permaculture benefits
- Shred leaves for composting and put down; add other compost to garden beds to prep for next spring
- Be sure to clean up debris and weeds to prevent bad bugs making their winter homes in your garden
- Mulch perennial beds and fruit trees; as ground begins to freeze, mulch strawberries, garlic, rhubarb and asparagus (cut down shoots after frost)
- Make sure you’ve properly prepared the winter herb garden
- Finish the last foraging for the season by getting up the last of the dandelion roots before the ground freezes
- Harvest leeks or cover with straw mulch if keeping in the garden
- Cover perennial herbs
- Root crops can be stored in a trash can, sunk in the ground and covered with straw
- If you planted spinach in late summer, now is the time to start harvesting it; you may still be able to plant some indoors or under winter cover
- If you have other areas that need fall clean up around the homestead, be sure to read this article to make sure you have all your bases covered
November in the Raised Garden Beds
- Clean pots and flats for seed starting in the spring
- See what another homesteader is doing in the garden this November
- Sand and seal any wooden structure, bee hive or garden box that is in need
- Bee sure your bees are fed and insulated and ready for winter
- For more information on how to prepare your garden for winter, visit this post
- Take notes about what worked well this year in the raised bed gardens and any problems you encountered; I suggest The Garden Notebook for this as advertised above
- Start indoor herbs to grow this winter; to help with that, we suggest Herbs in the Bathtub
December in the Raised Garden Beds
- Finish harvesting cool season crops like kale and/or cover any you mean to nurse through the winter
- Double check that all weed debris and garbage is out of the garden to prevent winter nesting grounds of bad bugs
- Clean and sharpen tools that have been neglected all season – click here for some handy tips
- Build a few more garden beds or cold frames
- Read this article from Tenth Acre Farm to see if we missed anything on this list for raised bed gardens
- Read those garden books you’ve been meaning to read all year long – for some ideas, click here
- Relax and enjoy your holidays – next month you begin the cycle again!
- Finish processing your harvest – you know, all that stuff you just haven’t gotten to yet
To help with keeping yourself on track each year with your home-canning, consider joining our newsletter family whereupon you will receive a FREE copy of our E-Booklet below:
January in the Raised Garden Beds
- Place mail orders – asparagus and strawberry crowns, seeds, spring planted bulbs
- if you’re struggling with shade, plan for Vegetables that Grow in the Shade with Healthy Green Savvy
- Clean and inventory all equipment – shovels, clippers, gloves, seed starting supplies
- Get out your graph paper and start sketching plans for the herb garden
- Sow seeds indoors for flowers and bedding plants
- Consider sprouting or growing micro-greens indoors for fresh greens in the winter
- Knock off snow build up on hedges, conifers and hoop-houses if getting really heavy
- Inventory stored food, remove spoiled items and decide what to grow more or less of next year
- Insulate cold frames and the raised bed gardens against severe extended cold if you haven’t already
- Read a book on a garden topic you’ve never studied before – maybe hydroponics?
- If that’s not your thing, try these winter gardening books
Indoor Plants and Weird Perennials in the Raised Garden Beds
The winter is also the time I plan out which perennials I’d like to try in my raised bed gardens the coming year. Some perennial plants are new to me and I like to test-grow them in my raised garden beds before I plant them in spots around the homestead. I’m absent minded about taking notes on new plants if they aren’t right in front of me. My raised garden beds are the perfect place to test new varieties of any plant. For example, I want to use this post from Practical Self Reliance on Growing Cranberries to see if I can get them to produce in my climate. I’ll put them in the raised garden beds first to watch how they do.
Practical Self Reliance also happens to have a post on Growing Lemon Grass that I want to use. Lemon grass is a plant that won’t survive my winters, so I’ll bring it in once the cool temperatures start. I often put hearty potted plant in the corner of my raised garden beds for ease of use. I forget about indoor plants once the growing season starts and will usually move my rosemary out to my raised garden beds once it’s warm enough. My scented geraniums and other potted herbs spend a good portion of the year in my raised garden beds, too. It’s just easier for me to care for them there. Plus, they help attract beneficial insects to my veggies.