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Put Your Garden to Bed for Winter

By Katie Sloan
In p. Allen Smith
Oct 30th, 2017

Prepping your garden beds for winter will make it easier to get a jump start on planting in the spring, because working in a soggy, spring bed is a difficult task! It’s far smarter to do that work in the fall, when the beds are dry and the weather is nice.

So, if you’re wondering how to tuck your garden beds in for a long winter nap and have them wake up refreshed, start with these five tasks:

Collect leaves and yard debris for the compost pile. Discard diseased foliage.

Pull up the old vegetable plants in your garden beds. Be sure to discard any diseased or infested vines. The insects living in them will lay eggs and return in the spring, if they’re not disposed of properly. Any non-diseased foliage can be added to your compost bin.

Mulch after the ground freezes.

Sometimes too much mulch can prevent the ground from freezing and killing off any disease or pests it might be harboring. So, wait until it freezes to add natural mulch like shredded leaves or a layer of clean straw.

Fall is also the best time to collect leaves and other brown matter for your compost bin. This makes a wonderful natural mulch for your beds that will decay and enhance the soil underneath.

Remove annuals and harvest seeds.

After the first hard freeze, remove annuals in your garden beds, and if they’re not diseased, add them to your compost pile. In places like ours with mild winters, you can replace the annuals with cold tolerant varieties. You should also harvest seeds, if possible, and begin drying them. They can be sown next year to supplement your new plantings.

Fall is also a great time to add bulbs of garlic to your bed. Given the proper amount of fertilizer, they will sit tight through the winter and grow like crazy in the spring.

Get rid of weeds.

Fall is the best time to remove weeds in your vegetable garden, flower beds or lawn. In the lawn, you can pull them up by hand, or if you have a herbicide, it’s a good time to spot-spray, especially for weeds like dandelion, thistle and sticker grass.

Side dress with compost and manure

This is a great time to add manure, compost, peat or leaves to your garden beds before the ground freezes. Those nutrients will be ready to feed your plants in the spring.