After a real cold snap last week, we’ve been enjoying balmy fall days, and mild nights–well within tolerance for my chickens, who still don’t have plex to cover their coop window. This is the perfect time of year to get those fall chores done, from pulling out annuals that have died, or begun to look sickly after the cold temps, to planting spring-blooming bulbs–a must on my personal list, to starting those lasagna beds, which will benefit from the winter snows.

It’s also time to start thinking about what plants you may want to winter sow for next spring. All kinds of plants work great if sown in containers once winter starts to really move in–and some grow best if they have that winter freeze and thaw cycle. I’ve been meaning to try growing trumpet vine, but the seeds won’t germinate if they don’t go through the winter freeze and thaw cycle first.

This woody vine can be a bit invasive in some areas, and it’s difficult to kill once established, but it’s very cold hardy and responds well to a hard prune in the early spring. I’ve seen this plant climbing telephone poles, companion planted with lilacs and other spring-blooming bushes to provide summer color, or on fences. It’s also very drought resistant. I’ll post full directions on winter sowing soon! Now is the time to collect seeds for next spring, and most gardeners are happy to share seeds with others.

This is also a great time to process your own pumpkin. Once the Halloween jack-0-lantern frenzy is past and prices come down, I plan to slice some pumpkin, bake it until soft, then blend it and freeze for pumpkin pies and many other pumpkin treats all winter long. The seeds are also great baked for winter munching.

Fall rains have weeds popping up again as well, so don’t think it’s time to take a break yet!