How to Prepare Your Garden for Winter this fall plays a huge roll in how your garden will perform and produce next year.
All too often, the vegetable garden plot become an afterthought as autumn settles in. Once plants begin to lose their vigor, and production slows or stops all together, many gardeners simply let their garden sit until the following spring’s planting season.
What once was a thriving vegetable garden quickly becomes an overgrown weed patch. And one not only filled with weeds and decaying vegetable plants, but with pests and disease as well.
Unfortunately, all of these issues simply don’t go away with the onset of winter. Nor can they be undone by simply tilling the soil under in the spring for a new garden. Which is exactly why preparing your garden for winter this fall is so important!
Here is a look at how to clean up and prepare your garden for winter, and for a great growing season next year.
How to Prepare Your Garden for Winter
1. Remove All Spent Vegetable Plants
Removing all spent vegetable plants is the most important task in preparation for winter. When left to rot and decay in the garden, it sets the stage for a multitude of problems for the following year’s growing season
Diseases and pests can utilize decaying plants as homes over the winter months and make a reappearance in next year’s new plants. Not only that, but rotting produce will drop to the ground and spread thousands of seeds in places that you may not want them coming up next year.
Vegetable plants should be pulled and cleared from the garden as soon as they begin to die back. As you clear the foliage, be sure to remove any decaying fruit that may have found its way to the ground as well.
2. Adding Back Organic Matter
Once you’ve created a clean state by removing all plants and remaining produce, its time to add some organic matter back to the soil. This will aid in replenishing spent nutrients to the ground
Whether you grow with raised beds, raised rows, or in a traditional garden setting, fall if the perfect time to rejuvenate and renew your soil’s nutrient levels by adding organic matter.
Growing plants take a toll on soil since they constantly soak up nutrients found within it. Over time, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and other key minerals begin to disappear from the soil. Neglecting to replenish said nutrients will affect the health and strength of your future gardens.
Adding a 1″ to 2″ topping of compost, animal manure or even shredded leaves will go a long way to recharge the soil over winter. The nutrients break down and leach into the soil over winter, and are ready to power plants by next spring!
3. Cover Up the Garden Soil
Leaving your soil bare throughout the winter is one of the biggest mistakes of all for a garden. First and foremost, it sweeps away valuable garden soil through erosion. But it also allows weeds and weed seeds to find an easy path to survive and lie in wait.
Although adding a layer of organic matter helps, covering the entire garden with a cover crop really sets the stage for success next year.
Not only does such a crop cover and protect the soil from erosion and weeds, it also gives valuable nutrients back to the soil.
And if for any reason a cover crop isn’t possible, then at the very least, cover that garden with something! Many choose to simply cover their garden by placing a large tarp over it. Others cover it in a thick coat of leaves or straw.
More on Gardening
- September Gardening Check List
- How to Properly Water the Garden
- Knowing When to Plant a Garden
- How to Cage Tomato Plants
- How to Can Tomato Sauce