With winter on its way, your time out in the vegetable garden is coming to a close. You might be enjoying all of the fresh produce you pulled from your yard, but you can’t forget about your garden beds just yet. The work you do to get your vegetable garden ready for winter will help you to have an easier spring and a more productive growing season next year. Before you stow away your cordless lawn mower, keep these tips in mind.
Clean Your Garden Beds
Garden beds can be a bit of a mess toward the end of the season, but you need to clean them up before you can call it a year. Many common plant diseases can survive the winter on dead plant material, so you want to make sure to clean it all up. Along with that, you should take the time to weed the garden and use your electric grass trimmer one last time.
Test the Soil
The end of the growing season is a good time to test your soil. With the results of your soil tests, you will have a better idea of the types of fertilizer to use next year and if you need to add any soil amendments. Don’t stop at testing the pH, you should also test for things like potassium, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, and salinity.
After getting samples for your soil tests, you should cover the beds with a thin layer of mulch. A layer of mulch can help to suppress weeds, but you do not want the covering to be too heavy at this time of year. Let the soil freeze to kill off any plant disease that may have survived in the soil. After the soil freezes, you can add a thicker layer of mulch to protect your perennials.
Instead of bagging your leaves and putting them at the curb for pickup, you should save them. Your collected leaves can be a great source of carbon for your compost pile. If you don’t have a compost pit, you could mulch the leaves and use them in your garden.
With all of the work of tending your garden done, this is the perfect time to think about expanding. You could make your existing garden beds bigger or you could add some newly raised garden beds. By doing the work now, your new garden beds will be ready for you to get to work at the beginning of spring. Preparing your vegetable garden for winter is a good way to set yourself up for a better spring. Along with tasks like cleaning the garden beds and testing the soil, you should also take some notes. Think about which plants grew well and which ones didn’t and make a note of any problems you may have experienced during the past growing season.
Written by Anita Franco