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Putting our garden to sleep for the winter!

prepping the garden for winter Our garden at the inns is hugely important to all of us – it’s like another member of the family. So this time of year, when we shut it down for the winter, is crucial – we have to make sure to take the right steps to protect it during the winter chill, without forgetting that it’s already time to prep it for spring!

I sat down with Wenda, our resident gardening guru, to find out exactly what it means to put the garden “to bed.”

“Basically, we clean up all the leaves, pull weeds, trim back everything so they won’t need cleaning up in the spring….anything that I have to divide or move, this is a good time to do it.”

Wenda also digs up all of the more tender plants and pots them for storage in the greenhouse. Finally, mulching is a huge part of the job, and one that she finds particularly satisfying.

“It looks clean and neat when you’re done with it; it’s like new carpet when you put mulch down!”

Once the garden is cleaned up, though, Wenda’s work still isn’t done – she still has a few hundred bulbs, fall blooms like tulips and daffodils that won’t bloom until spring, that must be planted now. A gardener’s work is never done in a beautiful place like San Juan Island!

Chef Molly is another member of the family to whom the garden is supremely important. We love having a farm-to-table approach as much as possible, and she can often be seen whipping up amazing sauces, jams, veggie dishes, and other culinary delights from ingredients she’s taken straight from the garden.

“I love having the garden there; to be able to go out and pick what I need is amazing,” she says. But when you decide to let your garden dictate your menu, it can present some unique challenges!
“One of the challenges I faced is using vegetables that I had never considered “breakfasty”,” Chef Molly told me. “Carrots are a good example of that.  One of my more creative uses is a carrot pancake syrup.  I also learned carrot tops are edible, so I made pesto with them.  I just used a straight substitution for the basil in my regular recipe.  I did the same thing with chives right around memorial day, when the spring crop started flowering. [Another] regular challenge here in the Pacific Northwest is to find a use for all your green tomatoes, as it’s rare for them ALL to ripen.  Last year I made about a gallon of green tomato chutney.  This year had a better ripening ratio, so I only had about 5 pounds of greenies.  I sliced, cornmeal breaded, and fried them.  I would serve them with creamy grits, collard greens, grilled ham, and a poached egg from Mossy Knoll Farm here on the island.”
Sounds delicious as always! Our eternal gratitude goes out to Molly and Wenda for making it so easy for us to have fresh produce on our table every day, all year round!


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