There are some telltale signs: I don’t grow pumpkins, but one sign is that there are roasted butternut squash seeds to be had and a pile of unused squashes in my fruit bowl. Another is that the tomato snarl – no longer can simply be called a “vine” – is so hopelessly interwoven that the fruits themselves require surgical excavation. The kale is full of bug-bitten holes, the basil is looking a little piqued…

It’s pretty close to first frost.

October has been a strange and warm month so far for the messy garden, but winter always catches up with us at our latitude. This morning was our first frozen wake-up, and this weekend we’re supposed to get our first snowflakes. I don’t love snow and I really don’t love winter, but there is something unmanageably cozy about first snowfall… I try to make something of it even when I don’t feel particularly “ready for the season.”

I know that this evening I’ll be spending some time ripping the tomato snarl out, hoping to pull any last tomatoes from under the pile of vines. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be trimming back all the perennials and making sure that the blueberries have plenty of pinestraw to last the winter. It’s like putting the garden down for a nap… just a really long one. The physical actions, with cold fingers in garden gloves, help me get used to the idea.

I’ve chosen a place to live where frost is possible for more than 6 months of the year, and so both my gardening and my heart need to be well bundled up for much of the year. The cold is one thing – I prefer summer clothing to piles and layers of parkas – but the darkness is pretty rough too. Lately, though, with waking so early and going to bed at 10 or 11, it is hardly surprising that it doesn’t feel so bad this year.

What do you to do to prepare your garden for winter? What about preparing your own mentality for the shift from summer’s sun to the chilly months?

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So, even more so than my first year of gardening last year, this year’s garden was a crazy mixed bag. I’m giving each crop a 1 (bumper crop), 2 (grew, but barely harvested anything), or 3 (dud) rating this year, and trying to remember the lessons I’m learning.

1 – Bumper Crops


Sweet Potatoes



Butternut Squash




2 – Mixed Bag





Bell Peppers

3 – Duds



Yellow Squash


Herb boxes in general on front deck

I had felt like this year’s garden wasn’t so successful till I divided them up, but then I remembered all the early batches of kale chips and the massive quantity of cucumber water I drank this summer to keep cool, and I realized that so much good is yet to come in future years and this year was actually pretty great all by itself. I learned more about how much sunlight each of my varieties of plants could handle, and I enjoyed the huge expanded areas for planting that Husband built in two beds… I am so pleased with the progress, especially my surprise – 11 big sweet potatoes buried deeper than I expected on skinny roots so I didn’t find them till last week! I didn’t can piles and piles of tomatoes (my one huge success of last year) but I sure did learn a lot and get a ton of bug bites as I gathered crops all summer. I’m officially a gardening addict, even if my green thumb is always gonna be kinda blotchy and inconsistent.


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