Gardeners must be ready when cold weather approaches. Everyone knows that all crops must be harvested before they are destroyed by the first frost. Any overgrown areas should be cut back before they wither and brown. However, there are some preparation tips you may not know.
1. Remove All Plant Life and Debris
Most home gardeners cut away the plants that are left standing. It is necessary to do much more than that. Leaving any debris behind provides a safe haven for pests that can destroy next year’s garden. Roots left in place may also offer sustenance for those insects that remain underground. Pull up any plants that are not to be overwintered and remove all signs of leaves, stems, fruits and vegetables.
2. Add Nourishment to Soil
Give your garden a head start on healthy soil by mixing in some much needed nutrients. Phosphate, manure and compost should be worked into the soil. This helps to replace any nutrients that were used to grow your summer garden.
3. Plant Bulbs
Onions, shallots, garlic and asparagus can all be planted in the fall for a spring harvest. If you are hoping to keep a garden growing through the winter, you may have some luck with lettuce and other leafy greens. This depends on your climate as even cold weather loving greens rarely survive frost.
4. Plant Cover Crops
A great way to keep your soil healthy, strong and aerated is with cover crops. Rye and clover are good choices for easily grown, soil enriching crops. These must be planted about a month before the first frost. Gardeners who plant long season crops or who have missed their chance for cover crops may need to skip this step.
5. Cover Your Garden Bed
Plastic sheeting will protect the soil from the elements. It can also help to keep weeds from growing. Though plastic sheeting won’t prevent insects from invading beneath the soil, it will keep those from above from overwintering in your garden. A covered garden bed is often easier to manage in the spring thanks to the heat that has been trapped.
6. Maintain Garden Tools
Prepping the ground for the winter isn’t the end of your cold weather plans. You also need to make sure your tools are safely stored, garden hoses are secured and any tools that need cared for are cleaned and sharpened. Doing this now will save you time when spring begins anew. This is also a good time to replace new equipment. The end of season means big sales on garden implements.
Don’t deny the importance of winter prep work. Your garden will thank you later for the time and effort you spend now. Following these steps ensures your garden will flourish in the spring.