Putting The Garden To Bed For The Winter
Fall is certainly upon us and it is time to put the garden to bed for the winter. Yes, I know you are sick of gardening at this point and you just want to forget about it for a few months. But trust me, you will be so grateful come spring that you took care of it in the fall. So read on to see exactly what you need to do now in your garden.
If you haven't already done so, it is time to pull up the dying or dead plants. Get them out of there and either in the trash or in the compost pile. If you are composting, thick vines need to be cut up a bit or they won't break down over the winter.
While you are doing this, think about what worked well this year and what didn't. Is there something that you won't waste the space on again? Was there a particular type of tomato plant that really did great this year? What did well, but you wished you had more of? When you are done pulling the old plants, take a break and write these things down in your gardening notebook so you won't forget. I know you think you won't forget, but you will. Winter has a way of making us forget what really happened and only remembering the good parts.
Now, head back out into the garden and till up the dirt some. Spread it around, break up any clods, and mix it up a bit. Now is the time to add some fertilizer. The dirt worked hard all summer growing your delicious vegetables and now it needs some food and proper rest. I like to add some chicken manure and a good layer of leaves. I don't have to really add the leaves, they just fall in. It would be more trouble for me to take them out, so I just mix them in.
If you wanted to be technical about it, you good take a soil sample and determine exactly which nutrients your soil needs to perform better next year. Then you could add what you needed to make that happen. I prefer to look up what kinds of vegetables need what kind of soil. Tomatoes prefer slightly acidic soil, so I can add pine needles or coffee grounds either within my compost or directly into the soil. Several weeks before planting (at least) is the best time to do this, so I prefer to do it in the fall.
Another thing you can do before closing up your garden completely is to plant garlic. Late October is the time to plant them. Cover them with hay or leaves and let them grow until July or so when it is time to harvest. It couldn't be easier.
Honestly, when spring hits I don't want to do much to get my garden ready. I just want to start planting. I want it ready and waiting for me. So I make sure to take the time in the fall, between raking leaves and rain showers, to get it ready for the following year. It just makes things so much easier for me. So delay no longer and go put your garden to bed for the winter.