The Fall is the best time of the year to prepare your garden beds for the winter and next year’s garden.
By following these suggestions you will be able to grow a better garden by improving your soil conditions.
After you have removed the plants and old fruit and vegetables from your garden beds it is time to prepare the soil for the winter.
It is critical to protect the soil from winter weather conditions that will deplete your garden beds if left unprotected. To do this you have several options the most common is to plant a cover crop that will protect the soil from winter rains which compact the soil and deplete it of essential nutrients.
Using cover crops will help to reduce weed growth in your garden beds.
Cover crops can add nutrients back into the soil that will enhance the organic matter needed to successfully grow your garden next year.
By having a cover crop you will provide a habitat for beneficial bugs.
The other options to protect your garden over the winter is composting or adding a layer of leaves and grass clippings on top of your garden beds.
With all cover crops, it is essential to know when to cut them down or til them under so that the nutrients of the cover crop get put back into the soil.
I have provided a few options for cover crops but you can find others that might be more suitable for you to use in your zone.
This plant is in the legume family and is one of the best for being used as a ground cover to protect your soil over the winter.
Seed the crimson clover 6-8 weeks before the first frost by broadcasting it over the soil bed.
The plant will grow all Fall and Winter to provide protection to your soil and add nutrients to the soil, it also provides a good place for pollinators to winter and feeds on pests that can harm your garden plants.
It is critical to cut the clover off once it is blooming and before it goes to seed. Cut the plant down to the ground and leave on the surface of the garden to add nutrients back to your garden.
This is a great cover crop since it grows quickly and goes to bloom before the first winter freeze. The key is to plant buckwheat in late Summer or early Fall to allow it to grow early before there is any chance of frost.
Once it is starting to bloom you can cut it off at the surface and allow it to lay on the top of the soil to add nutrients back into the garden and protect it from winter rain and snow.
This will also be a great place for pollinators to live during the cold winter months.
Adding compost after you have removed all of your plants is another great way to protect your garden and add nutrients back into the soil for next year’s plantings. You do not need to till the compost into the garden but just spread it on top of the soil.
Compost can be purchased by the bag or you can make your own by adding grass clippings, leaves, small branches from plants and leftover fruit and vegetables, and soil to make organic compost.
Below are a few options to make your own compost to use in your garden that will save you money and provide you with the best organic compost material to add to your garden to grow the best plants possible.
- Made in the USA
- Made from high density polyethylene formulated for long-term outdoor use
- Genuine GEOBIN Composter by Yardfu
- Speed Up Composing Process
- Easy to Access Finished Compost
- Dual-Bin Design
If you have access to leaves and grass clippings this is a great way to cover your garden not only for protection from winter rains and snow but also to add nutrients back into the soil.
If you are using grass clippings it is good to know that they do not have herbicides that have been sprayed on them which can contaminate your garden soil. Also, you do not want to use grass clippings by themselves since they can build up to make a barrier on top of your soil.
When using leaves it is best to chop them up and mowing over them with your lawn mower is a great way to do this before spreading them on your garden beds to put them to rest for the winter.
Adding the leaves to the top of your garden bed will also provide pollinators a good place to live during the winter providing them protection from winter weather.
Whatever you choose to do to winterize your garden, any one of these methods will allow you to protect your garden from winter weather that will deplete your soil of valuable nutrients, reduce weeds from germinating and provide a home for pollinators.
All of these will give you a head start on next year’s garden to grow the best plants possible.
Once you have put your garden to bed for the winter you can sit indoors where you can focus on planning next year’s garden and what to grow.