Tuesday, September 6, 2016

How to Put Your Garden to Bed for the Winter

It's fall, you've turned the furnace on, you've started a fire in your fireplace or wood stove; it's time to think about shutting your garden down for winter.  (I am sure there are other things to think of like winterizing your car but this IS a gardening blog.)

Step 1: Start putting your garden to bed by harvesting your ripe produce.  Many "hot" plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants will continue to produce fruits until frost.  Pinch off new growth and flowers because at this point they will not end up forming fruits, you want to concentrate the energy the plant has into ripening what is already growing.

(Frost damage on grapes)

(Frost on cabbage)

Step 2:  Pull all weeds, grass and clean up garden debris.  This helps to reduce pathogens and pests in your garden.  If you had blight, powdery mildew or any other issues in your garden this year, remove all infected plants from your garden ASAP.  Don't put your garden to bed looking like this!

Step 3:  When your crops have stopped producing, pull them up and put them in the clean green pile.  No wire, plastic or string in the clean green please.

Step 4:  Next, mulch your empty garden bed/plot with some nice organic matter.  Leaves, straw, cardboard, newspaper, compost or burlap will do nicely.  Lay the mulch on as thickly as you can 2-6 inches is ideal.

(We do not recommend wood chips, as they decompose they strip nitrogen from the soil.) Thick black plastic will do as well, although it is not organic and when it heats up, it will kill beneficial microorganisms in the soil.

(burlap mulch)

(straw mulch)

(compost mulch)

(leaf mulch)

Step 5:  Relax and enjoy your winter.  Spend your cozy nights browsing through seed catalogs and the like. When the spring comes, all you have to do is remove the mulch (I NEVER get rid of any organic mulch, I simply push the stuff into my paths) and plant.  Your soil will be weed free and ready to receive your starts or seeds.  We hope you have had a fruitful and "vegetative-ful" year gardening with MCGA, see you next spring!

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