Winter Rest for the GardenPreparing your garden for the cold months ahead
Every gardener has a different version of the “best” way to prepare a backyard garden for the winter and we are about to present you with ours !
1. Out with the old plants.
One thing we can all agree on is that it is worth your effort to remove all the old annual plants. While you should not be in any hurry to clean up plants you are still getting goodies from ( be that visual or veggie ) Cleaning up the “old” plants helps cut down on insect and disease problems that can build up if left.
Much of this can be used in your compost pile if you have one. If you add this to your compost pile, if you have a bunch of soil clinging to the roots, don’t worry, just add that into the pile too.
2. Plant / Harvest any last minute crops.
Now there are many options for your garden before you say good bye for the year. If you like, you can plant spinach , kale and collard greens. You might even get away with turnip greens or mustard greens. My side note (if you are not into super healthy) is to cook your harvested product with some bacon as every thing tastes better with bacon.
These green crops are great , work as a soil cover and can be tilled back into your garden as a “green manure”. Another plant that works well as a “green manure” is Rye Grass. My favorite non-food cover crop is Red Clover, as this is a Legume hence a nitrogen fixing plant and can add nitrogen when tilled back into the soil.
3. Till it up, Cover it up.
Ok, enough talk and speculation. You are ready to get down to business and have taken up the old stuff and put into your compost pile or thrown away if you don’t have one. Time to pull out the tiller or rent one. Before I start my machine and get to work I’ll broadcast some granular fertilizer. Triple 13 (13-13-13) works well at about a pound to a pound and a half per 1000 ft of garden area , so it will not take that much.
Get the tiller going and work the garden soil to a depth of 8″ to 12″. After giving your garden the once over it is time for the last step……mulching. You can use wheat straw (not hay as you will be adding weed seed) cover up to a good depth of at least 6″ to 8″ .
4. Enjoy a healthy garden next Spring!
Now that you are mixed, tilled and mulched you can read a good book. When you take off the straw in the Spring , rake the soil and like the old rock song said , “Second verse, same as the first ” – planting your Spring garden !!!