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Putting The Garden To Sleep For The Winter

>25 October 2011
 
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Jerry and I have been steadily working at cleaning up the garden to put it to bed for the winter. We’ve taken out the raised beds (which were falling apart), pulled up everything that was finished producing for the year along with many tall weeds (a work in progress), and filled the compost bin with all of the scraps. We cleaned out trash, put the empty pots in the shed, and cleared off the potting table.

Yes. Our garden is resting until Spring.

I would still like to put in a few things, maybe in one or two new raised beds. There is still time to plant garlic, shallots, and onions. And the strawberries still need to be relocated. But right now I’m just focusing on getting reorganized again, first.

There is a lot I can be doing right now to be preparing for planting time in Spring.

We’ll be tilling it up again sometime next week, and then top dressing the soil in the garden to work in organic matter. I’m thinking more of a lasagna method idea. Spreading around leaves, hay or straw, manure, grass clippings (from untreated lawn), woodchips and pine needles, layering them with compost, and allowing these things to break down over the winter is a great way to build the soil’s richness, and loosen our dense red clay. This mulching will also help prevent new weeds from growing up and taking over.

You could plant a cover crop (which would also build up the soil and fight weeds), to be tilled in come Spring time, but I think it’s too late for me to do that here.

I’ve already been thinking about how I want to improve next year’s garden, how I want it all laid out, and what I can be doing now to get it ready.

One of the problems I had this year was not getting stuff staked or trellised before it got too big. I’m hoping to go ahead and get trellises in place over the next couple of months, so they are ready to go come planting time.

I also need to get out there and mulch around my perennials (my artichokes, fruit trees, herbs, and elderberry bushes), to keep them warm through the freezing temps that are sure to come.

So, even though planting and harvesting times are over, the work is never done! There is still plenty to do to keep me busy in the garden until Spring comes again.

What about you, how do you prepare your garden space to rest through the winter? And what types of things do you do now in order to be one step ahead once planting time arrives?


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6 Comments »

  • Angela said:

    We’ve started the process of composting all of our exhausted cucumber vines, zucchini and sunflowers. I enjoy taking my time to get everything cleaned up. It does seem surreal to me, however, seeing everything gone from the garden! Poof! everything is gone. Anyway, we don’t till anything, so for us, preparing the garden beds is a matter of layering. We have some fresh compost which just came down from its high temperature, and it will be added on top of our current beds, mixed with ripped up cardboard. The cardboard will help to retain moisture. We’ll cover that with straw, soak the bed with duck poop water, then water it and leave it till spring. High desert gardening can be very rewarding, especially when you see how well things grow if you just cover the ground with a little mulch.

  • daisy said:

    We’re actually still planting here in FL. I just put in some lettuce, leeks, carrots and eggplant.

    Your garden will be in great shape come plantin’ time!

  • Gina said:

    We pulled everthing up and will add a layer of mulch from our compost bin, we planted turnip greens in two of our beds, they are doing nicely, and we planted two blueberry bushes and are looking to add more berry bushes this weekend. I am intersted in cold frame construction for more winter vegetables. We are also going to work on a chicken coop for spring chicks. Now what to do with all the green tomatoes we had to pull off the vines this weekend?

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Gina,

    There are canning recipes online for green tomatoes. Look ‘em up!! I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s better than letting them go to waste ;)

  • Maegan said:

    I have started the layering method that Angela described above. It is very rewarding to look at your fresh bed of layers and know that through the winter it will decompose and be ready for new seedlings in the spring. One reason I like this method is it doesn’t take a rototiller or back breaking hours of turning the soil (which I used to do). My question is how do you get “duck poop water”? I have ducks so I’d love to know how Angela gets it for the garden beds.

  • MK said:

    I’ve had good luck with getting some of our green tomatoes to ripen. If you put them in brown paper bag with an apple, many of them will ripen on their own. The apple gives off a chemical that simulates how many of the commercial tomatoes are ripened during shipping. Alternatively, I’ve seen some interesting recipes for green tomato chutney….

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