Well summer is over and fall has come and past. You had a bountiful summer harvest and your garden is still producing a few vegetables here and there. Everyone is in agreement; they can’t wait for next spring to come around.
If you want to have another abundant year of fruits and vegetables then there were a few things you could have done before winter to ensure it. Instead of procrastinating and waiting until spring, do some ground work early. Let’s look at how you can prepare your vegetable garden for winter.
Steps To Prepping Your Garden For Winter …
Everyone who has had a garden, whether floral, greenery or vegetables, has gone through different steps of care for the winter months. Even though vegetables may be grown in your home or even a hot house, most families have vegetable gardens outside in their yards.
The size of their gardens varies due to the types, amounts and space needed for their fruits and vegetables to grow. Whether the seeds are placed directly into the ground or in raised vegetable beds, the steps needed for prepping for winter are more or less the same.
Here are the steps that will make your springtime planting so much easier:
- Clean it!
- Test it!
- Amend/compost it!
- Cultivate/till it!
- Mulch it!
Clean it! It’s important to remove all dead and/or diseased materials from the ground area or raised beds.
This includes any rotten fruits or vegetables with mold or mildew, leaves or stalks with fungus or eggs from insects.
Remove any weeds that have invaded your garden. The best way to dispose of anything that is diseased, including invasive weeds, is to put it in your trash or to burn it.
Do not add any of this into your compost pile! You should compost only healthy material.
Test it! Since the ground and/or raised beds have been cleaned up and all debris has been removed, it is the perfect time to test the remaining soil.
The test results will indicate the soil’s PH balance, levels of minerals and organic matter, and lead content. Based on these results, you will know if you have to add lime, organic matter, and/or fertilizer to improve the soil.
The lime will make the soil’s PH more neutral, the organic matter can be added at any time, and fertilizer should probably be added in the spring, unless it is a slow-release garden vegetable fertilizer.
Amend/compost it! Your garden soil has been cleaned, tested to see what it may be lacking, so now it is ready to be amended.
There is a possibility that fertilizer added in the fall, could be washed away or washed down into the soil. Adding compost is a good amending solution, it will not only protect the soil but add nutrients.
There are many different types of compost. You can buy store bought compost, compost from organic worm castings, even natural organic materials like leaves, wood chips, pine needles, grass, straw, etc.
Just make sure that none of these things has been treated with chemicals.
Cultivate/till it! Laying amendments or compost on top of soil is fine, but tilling or mixing it into the soil every few years may help aerate the soil, break down hard clay soil, and destroy winter pest or disease spores.
You can use a tiller and even a hand-held shovel or claw tool to do the work. Once tilled, you can decide if you want to use a small section to plant things that do well in the fall, like garlic bulbs.
Mulch it! Lastly, you want to protect everything you just completed by adding a layer of mulch to the top of the soil.
Not only will this winter mulch protect the soil, but keep moisture in and weeds out! You can use the same organic materials listed under compost – leaves, pine needles, grass, straw, etc.
Once done, your winter garden has been prepped.
Why Prepare Before Spring?
You may be thinking that preparing your vegetable garden for winter is hard work, but in reality, it’s not as bad as you think. It could be a great bonding experience for the whole family, everyone working together and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Most of the work should be done in the fall when the weather is cooler and the coldness of winter has not begun.
You and your family can reminisce about this past harvest by sharing and jotting down notes/thoughts:
- What did you plant?
- What did you enjoy eating?
- Do you want more of a certain fruit or vegetable?
- What compost, fertilizer, mulch did you use?
- Did they work or do you have to make changes?
- Did you get requests for different veggies?
The Bottom Line
If you didn't get to prepare this fall, there is always the next time. Just think, if you follow through on preparing your garden before this years winter, when spring comes the next year, you will realize that most of the work is already done. All you and your family have to do is plant your new garden and wait in anticipation for the bountiful harvest like you had this year!