Prepping the garden in the early winter

Winter’s chill is upon us. Arizona had the first hard freeze the week. The tomato plants that were lush and green last week are now wilted, the leaves curled into themselves burnt from the hard freeze. Half grown green tomatoes fill the vines. The greens of the sweet onions are also wilted and drooping. The freeze has killed off the last of the summer’s growth and now it’s time to prep the garden for next year.

I have livestock. A Jersey dairy cow and her calf and an old quarter horse who’s retirement is to hang with the cows. I also have a small flock of chickens and a breeding pair of emu. The pens and pasture are raked weekly and the compost pile has been cooking all summer. Now that the garden has been hit by the freeze, it’s time to pull up the dead plants, seek out the few onions that remain in the dirt and prep it for winter. And in prepping for winter, for me I mean prepping for next spring. I’ll move the compost pile that has been cooking all summer over the garden beds and that have lost dirt to digging chickens, dust storms and the great Arizona winds. I’m hoping to double the depth of the beds this year because some of my plants struggled with root depth and the hard Arizona clay at the bottom of the beds.

Come December, it will be garlic planting time. If I can get the compost moved and keep it watered on the warmer days it should be ready to host garlic in a couple of months. I plan to create an herb section this coming spring, eager for fresh basil and rosemary to cook with.

How do you prep your garden for winter? Do any of you grow garlic? Eager for comments and good conversation!