Is it Time to Put the Vegetable Garden at Your Santa Cruz Home to Bed for the Winter?

Posted by Lauren Spencer on Thursday, October 20th, 2011 at 11:01pm.

All things must pass. No matter how the gardening at your Santa Cruz home went this year, it’s getting time to move on and change with the seasons. Here are some tips to help you:

• Dig those sweet potatoes. Harvest sweet potatoes before the first frost, or they will be ruined. If you wake up and find the frost has hit before you had the chance, run out there immediately and at least cut the vines off at the base of the plants. This may stop damage to the roots, but you still need to dig your sweets before the next frost. After digging, cure them by keeping them in a warm, dark place like the attic of your Santa Cruz home. This sweetens them up and gets them ready for storage. After curing, store them somewhere that never goes below 40 degrees; they can still be damaged by low temperatures.

• Harvest winter squash. Unlike sweet potatoes, winter squash can survive a frost. In fact, some say they benefit from a light frost, but don’t leave them out during a hard freeze. Winter squash should be very hard; you should not be able to puncture the skin with your fingernail. Truly ripe winter squash should keep in storage for several months.

• Take down garden structures such as trellises and stakes.

• Get rid of weed seeds. If you find any old weeds that somehow went to seed, get them out of there now, or you’ll regret it next year.

• Save vegetable and herb seeds. If anything you grew went to seed, and it’s not a hybrid, collect the seeds and put them in small glass jars or envelopes. Make sure they’re dry first, and label with variety name and year.

• Try some last minute sowings. Some greens, especially spinach, can withstand surprisingly cold weather. What have you got to lose? Just throw down some seeds, water them in, and see if they make a stand. If they do, you may want to cover them with plastic in a month or two.

• Mulch. This is especially important if your garden is not on flat ground. Bare soil is prone to erosion. Leaves, grass clippings or straw will protect your beds and slowly add organic matter, even over the winter months.

If you’re looking for a Santa Cruz home where you can grow a garden next year, I can help! Contact me at or 831.662.6522.

For additional information, please visit my website at


Sweet potatoes

Winter squash


About Lauren Spencer

Award-Winning Santa Cruz REALTOR®

Lauren Spencer is your local real estate expert, specializing in Santa Cruz real estate and surrounding communities—this is where she lives, works, and plays too. Let her know your questions about the community and county and she'll be happy to fill you in on all you want to know! Lauren Spencer has consistently been voted best local REALTOR in Santa Cruz and is always happy to offer her advice and expertise. Call her at: 800.226.4717.

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