Well, as we move into the colder weather it is time to consider what to do with the garden. I’ve seen some people write about how you need to clear everything out of the garden so that pests don’t winter there. Well, I definitely don’t want a lot of pests in my garden. Others write that you shouldn’t clear everything out, that way beneficial insects have a place to winter. Shoot, beneficial insects sound like just the kind of bug I’d like in the garden.
Well, this year I’m doing a mixture of both. We’ve had a few nights that have gone down the 20s (and a touch lower). I think most all of what I have grown to harvest for this year is done. I put some garlic in the ground and I’m trying a few potatoes out as well to see if they will pop up next year. They were just some other seed potatoes that would have ended up in the compost otherwise, so I won’t be really upset if they don’t work out. Also, the Swiss Chard that I planted last November has all of its leaves wilted from the cold, I think those leaves will be a duck treat and we’ll see if some new growth shows up.
I’ve pulled out a number of the plants, like the tomatoes and peppers. Those got taken back to the compost pile. Others, like a few of the squash vines that got frozen, have been left in place to break down into the beds. Little Bug’s flower garden has had all of its stalks and vines left in place. We had a number of good-sized sunflowers that sprouted up and a mess of morning glory vines. These are going to stay in place over the winter as a bug hotel. Hopefully, some of the good insects will move in and call the garden home next year.
As far as covering the beds, I’m trying a few different methods. I have some plastic that I had been using to pull over the beds and try to bake down some of the grass that grew up around the plants. There are a couple beds that I’ll be leaving the plastic on over the winter to see how it protects the bed. Some others have gotten a layer of straw over them as a winter blanket. Another is getting covered in the muck of bedding that has been pulled out of bird land. And finally, I’m gathering up some fall leaves to cover a few beds. We’ll see in the spring if there are any big differences between these various coverings.
Also, I went through and did what will probably be the last cut of the grass this year. This was mostly to have a good to have some cut grass that I could mix with other leaves as I filled the compost bins. I have seen a few places say that a good mixture of leaves and grass will break down into a good rich compost, so I’m trying it out. With any luck, there will be a decent amount of the stuff come spring to add some to the garden beds.