11 Ways To Prepare Your Garden For Fall & Winter
It’s hard to believe that fall is just around the corner. This means we have to start preparing for colder weather and gardening. You’ve done a lot of work this summer, tending to your plants, vegetables, herb, and so on, but there’s still some more work to be done before you can get cozy in that blanket on the couch.
For this reason, we have prepared some helpful ways that will get you all set up for fall and winter.
1. Get Rid of All Dead Vegetation
While this task may seem as overwhelming, you should take it one bed at a time and make it seem easier. The first thing you should do is take note of any damage, then assess the results of your work during spring and summer by walking around your garden and looking at how well or not well your plants did. Write your advantages and disadvantages of your plants so you won’t forget it for next year.
You must get rid of all dead plant material, rotten fruits and vegetables. There are diseases, like late blight that can live on what’s left in the garden (for example fruits and foliage). If you notice blight, mildew or mold on your plants, make sure you burn them to avoid spreading.
2. Plant Cover Crops
Planting cover crops is an easy activity. They will keep soil microbes alive and active while the winter months last and will help in suppressing weeds and reducing erosion that can carry valuable topsoil. So, you should plant fall cover crops four weeks before the first frost. Legumes should go a little earlier, by mid-September because they need more time to germinate. Rye crops can be planted a bit later, let’s say up until the first frost.
3. Eradicate Those Weeds
Weeding is important, as it is essential to get the weds out before seeds begin to fall. Have in mind that weeds that are spread by seed produce thousands of more seeds, for instance, redwood pigweed can bear up to 117,000 seeds per plant. So, if half of those pigweed seedlings germinate next spring, you will have around 58,000 pigweed plants to pull.
But there is no better way to do it than to pull them all out by hand. Make sure you get the root out along with the weed. If you have lots of weeds, make sure you have a comfy sitting pad. Pull the weed from its base if you can, in order to get the root and weed all at once.
4. Add Mulch & Compost
Once you do the above explained steps, it’s time to add 1 inch to 2 inch layer of finished compost and cover the beds with old mulch to protect the soil and suppress the weeds. The goal is to freeze the soil ( if that is possible in your area) as you don’t want pests and diseases to be alive wandering around your garden. Make sure you don’t add too much mulch as it can do the opposite and prevent this process.
5. Clear Out Your Compost Bins
When cleaning up your garden beds, there will be a lot of material going into the compost heap. So, it’s great to clear up the compost from last year and use it around your garden to enable bins for this season’t waste.
6. Herb Containers
If you have herbs growing in containers, they’re probably starting to look pretty shabby now, so either harvest and dry them for use, or move them indoors and make sure they get lots of sunlight.
7. Prepare Any Perennials
You should cut the stems on any perennials if the temperature beings dropping down to about freezing. You must dispose of the cuttings because the dead vegetation you tossed out can harbor disease that can survive the cold weather and return in spring. Mulch the soil around your plants when the weather gets colder to help the roots retain the coldness and not end up freezing.
8. Take Care of Those Tender Species Long Before Frost Hits
If you have tender species like begonias and dahlias, cut back their stems and then gently lift them out, clean them of soil and then store them in trays of sand or dry compost, leaving just the top of the crown visible. Keep the trays in a cool place until the warmer months arrive.
9. Test Your Soil
Fall is the best time to test your soil and find out if it should be improved. You can improve your soil by adding nutrients and adjusting its pH level. If you need to adjust the pH level, lime is a great addition and will add lots of benefits to the soil. If the soil is acidic (at or belo 6.0) or alkaline (above 7.0) the plants won’t be able to absorb nutrients.
10. Shut Down Your Watering System
Fall is the time when you should think about disassembling the water in order to prevent damage from frost. If you come from the warmer climates, you should just disconnect the system from a hose spigot and let the water drain out. But, if you live in the colder regions, you should use an air compressor to blast all water out or bring everything inside. This may seem obvious, but it’s something you can easily forget as well.
11. Clean Out Your Garden Shed or Storage Area & Prepare Your Garden Equipment
If you have any old chemicals, first research how to get rid of them responsibly and then properly toss them out.
If you have a greenhouse, don’t use it to store any of your garden tools, seed boxes, or old plant labels, etc. as it’s important to keep it clean and healthy.
Tending to your gardening equipment and tools is a must too, as it’s important to keep them well-maintained by preparing them for the colder months of the year. Clean them all thoroughly before storing them for the off-season.
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