As the weather gets cooler and starts to bump up to being considered cold you’ll want to put the garden to bed. Or perhaps mostly to bed. There are some things that might be left to keep growing but for the most part you’ll want to prepare your garden beds for the oncoming winter. Without something growing you’ll need a way to keep the winds from blowing off too much of your soil. You’ll also want some type of protection for the helpful micro-fauna that lives in your soil. And of course the more you clean up now the less you’ll have to do at the start of the next growing season.
What about those plants?
First off you’ll want to clear out the plants from this year that are done. As you finish harvesting your last rounds you’ll want to cut down or pull up the plants. They can go through a shredder or just right into your compost pile for future use to return to the garden. Of course there are some that you can leave be to grow all winter. I have garlic in ground right now to harvest next year. There is also some kale, spinach and swiss chard growing happily for salads. Had I planned a bit better I would have some potatoes and onions planted too.
And the dirt?
Now that you don’t have anything growing you’ll need to protect the soil. You’ll want some layer of mulch to cover your soil. You could use straw, wood mulch, leaves or the like. The biggest thing is that you don’t want any chemicals or the like. This will be breaking down and becoming part of your soil over the winter. As another warning you won’t want to use hay as it still has seeds and you don’t want to add more weed seeds to your garden beds.
Odds and Ends
Of course with freezing weather you will want to disconnect and empty your hoses. If you have shutoff valves inside you’ll want to shut off water to outside spigots. You can also find foam covers to go over your spigots to add another layer of protection from them freezing. Then you will want to look around your garden to see what else is laying about. Are there chairs, shades or other items laying about that won’t get used until next spring? Is there somewhere you could store them to keep them out of the cold and weather?
Always be thinking about next growing season while you are wrapping up this one. Did you like the way your hoses where laid out? If so diagram out how you had them. Go through your notes and consolidate them, when was last frost? What did you plan and when? Did it come up and provide a bumper crop or did it just peter out? What it delicious? As you compile all those notes start thinking about what to plant next year. Will you want to move things about or grow them in the same place?