© 2024
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Easy Garden Prep For Winter

Wikimedia Commons

As autumn begins, it’s time to plan ahead for winter and spring.

Things gardeners do in the autumn can pay forward through the winter and into next spring.

Root Crops

Keeping the fall vegetable crop through the winter makes the veggies worth growing. In our area most fall harvested vegetables are root crops. Root crops don’t put a lot of pressure on the grower because they can stay in the ground. Carrots and parsnips actually get sweeter as the soil gets cooler in the fall. Potatoes stop growing and add a thicker storage skin if they are left in the ground. 

Onions do need to be harvested when their tops fall over. Leave onions, tops and all in the sun for a few days. This helps form the skin. Cut the tops off when they are dry. Store onions in mesh bags or open bins with some air circulation.

"Autumn is the time to create new garden beds."

Harvest other root crops before the soil freezes. That gives gardeners some time. Usually the soil freezes around the Winter Solstice. Most root crops like to be stored at temperatures between 32 and 40 degrees.  A cool room, an unheated crawl space or shed can work. This time of year we leave the shed door open at night to let in cool air and then close it during the day to keep in the cool. 

Garden Bed Planning

Autumn preparation of garden beds is planning ahead for spring. As the veggies come out turn the soil. It’s a good time to add compost or organic matter. Leave the garden soil clumpy so the winter freeze and thaw cycle can break it up. 

Autumn is the time to create new garden beds. These can be beds for vegetables or for new parts of the ornamental landscape. Design the beds to optimize the rain, snow, sun and wind. If it’s a shady spot design it for hosta and other shade loving plants. Hot, sunny landscape beds are ideal for many drought tolerant, native plants. 

Dig out and remove the existing vegetation. A lot of new gardens beds take over areas of lawn. Before you dig the bed be sure to know where your utility lines are. Call for utility line locates. It is a free service. You don’t want to be the one to cut the main cable to all of your neighbors. Roto-tilling loosens the soil four or six inches deep. Hand digging can loosen the soil to at least a foot deep.


Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.
Related Content