Visit A Farmer's Market
Many farmer's markets are still open, offering those wonderful fall and winter vegetables and herbs that either thrive in cool temperatures or are ready for harvesting and storage now. These include cabbage, bok choy, tatsoi, salad greens, turnips, winter radishes, kale, collards, apples, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, green onions, storage onions, leeks, parsnips, chervil, and cilantro. Explore the many wonderful possibilities of using these in your cooking, both for the holidays and with everyday meals.
Tackle a Landscaping Project
Although the weather is starting to turn colder, there will still be beautiful, mild days in the weeks ahead. Rather than waiting until spring, when gardening activities become really hectic, pick a landscaping project to do now. Maybe it's something as simple as tilling up an area for a new flower or vegetable bed, which will definitely give you a head start on next year, or it might be more complex, like building a stone retaining wall, installing a fence, or widening a walk. Look around your yard and pick a project that you've wanted to do for a long time, then you'll have the winter to sit back, relax, and enjoy it.
Begin Gathering Natural Decorations
There's a deep-seated satisfaction in decorating your home for the winter holidays with natural materials from your own yard. Evergreen boughs and cones, holly branches heavy with berries, and dried ornamental grasses are the obvious first choices. Be sure to consider the wide variety of broadleaf evergreen foliage, such as southern and sweet bay magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas, mountain laurel, or inkberry as well as the many needled evergreens, including junipers, false cypress, spruce, hemlock, and pines, all of which can provide a range of textures. But have you ever thought about corn tassels or okra pods? And think about what Colonial Williamsburg decorations would be without apples. Look around and be creative.
Protect Broad-Leaved Evergreens
Broadleaf evergreens, such as rhododendrons and azaleas, do best when both their leaves and roots are protected in winter. Mulch the shallow roots with a 4- to 6-inch layer of leaves. Be sure to water first if the weather is dry. Further protect the leaves by using an anti-dessicant spray, which limits the harmful effects of winter winds.
Snag Winter Weeds
Although it may be hard to believe, there are weeds that flourish in winter, most notably wild onions and chickweed. Take the time on any warm day to go around the garden and remove these. Be sure to get all the roots. Doing this throughout the winter will make next spring's garden much less work. As long as any of the areas haven't been sprayed with harmful chemicals where the chickweeds and onions are growing, you can use them in salads.