By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Source: Gardening Know How
Preparing a vegetable garden for winter will help your garden stay healthy from year to year.
A little fall planning and prepping can really rev up the spring season. Autumn is the time to clean up beds, manage soils, prepare sod and minimize problems in the new growing season. It’s also the time to plant spring blooming bulbs and pull out tender summer bloomers. Fall garden prep is one of those maintenance chores that will help guarantee a beautiful and bountiful garden next season.
When preparing a garden for fall, start by removing any materials used for supporting your plants, like bean stakes, tomato cages or trellises. Clean all of these items by wiping them down or spraying them with a two to one solution of water and bleach. This will kill any diseases that may be lingering on the supports.
The next step in cleaning the garden is to remove spent plant material from the garden. Dead plants, old fruit and vegetables and any diseased plants should be removed from the garden beds and disposed of. If the spent plant material was healthy, it can be composted. If the plant material showed signs of disease, it should be disposed of in the trash or by being burned.
If you compost diseased plant material, you risk re-infecting your garden next year with the same disease.
After this, another step in preparing a vegetable garden for winter is to spread compost, composted manure or other fertilizers onto the vegetable beds.
Fall garden prep before winter enhances the appearance of the yard and ensures that tender plants get some TLC to protect them before cold weather hits.
After fall garden maintenance is finished, it’s a good time to plant shrubs and trees. They will get adequate moisture and a dormant period to minimize transplant shock. Many gardeners think autumn means an end to gardening. It’s surprising what plants can be grown up until the first freeze or even after in mild climates. Extend your harvest by using row covers, mulch and cold frames. Shop the late season sales for vegetable starts. You can plant most of the Brassicas, such as cabbage and broccoli. In mild climates, you can start hard-necked garlic. Lettuces, radish and some root crops are also good fall gardening tips for the veggie grower. Cover any crops if snow or an extended freeze is expected.
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