It’s November, which means:
Christmas music is beginning to waft through stores across North America, and
I’m preparing my garden for winter.
The most important task for preparing a garden for winter is getting that soil good and covered.
There are a few ways you can tackle that:
1. Get Rid of All Dead Vegetation
By the time summer has faded, your garden probably looks a little bit untidy and dirty. Tasking ahead certainly seems overwhelming, but you must notice any damage since a garden can tell you a lot at the end of the growing season. Take note of any failures of individual plants and identify which plans have outgrown their space and require to be divided.
You must get rid of all dead plant material, rotten fruits and vegetable, because there are diseases such as late blight, and certain pests can reside on what’s left in the garden like fruit and foliage. Make sure your burn any plants that had developed blight, mildew or mold, in order to avoid spreading it rather than tossing them in a compost pile.
2. Plant Cover Crops
You need to plant cover crops because they’ll help maintain soil microbes alive and active during the winter, as well as to suppress weeds and decrease erosion that can carry away valuable topsoil. An ideal time for planting fall cover crops is at least four weeks before the first frost. Legumes should to go in a bit earlier, by mid-September, since they need more time to germinate, while rye crops can be planted a bit later, up until the first frost.
3. Eradicate Those Weeds
Weeding is a necessary evil, and it’s essential to get them out before the seeds starts to fall. Place a set of carpet scraps upside down and cover them with bark mulch or straw to make a weed-free garden path. Use smaller scraps as mulch around your vegetable garden. Those weeds that appear in the cracks of your walkways can be difficult to eradicate. But salt can be of a great help in this case.
4. Add Mulch & Compost
When you’ve rid your garden of dead vegetation and weeds, add a 1” to 2” layer of finished compost and lightly cover the beds with old mulch to help protect the soil and suppress weeds, all of this with the goal the soil to freeze, if it’s possible in your area, as pests and many diseases will be destroyed when the ground is frozen. Do not add too much mulch, as it can prevent this process.
5. Clear Out Your Compost Bins
Once you are done with cleaning up your garden beds, you’ll likely to have a lot of material going into the compost heap. Therefore, you need to clear out the compost from last year and use it around your garden to make room in the bins for this season’s waste.
6. Herb Containers
If your herbs are growing in containers, they will probably look pretty shabby, so you can try harvesting and drying them for use, or you can move them indoors where they can get plenty of natural light.
7. Prepare Any Perennials
When the temperature starts to dip to about freezing, it’s time to remove the stems on any perennials you have to within an inch or two of the ground. You must to dispose of the cuttings, such as the dead vegetation you tossed out, cuttings is also likely to harbor disease that can survive the winter and return in the spring. Mulch the soil around the plants once the weather gets cooler to help keep the roots cold so that they don’t end up freezing and thawing several times, which can damage them.
8. Take Care of Those Tender Species Long Before Frost Hits
Tender species like begonias and dahlias are required to be taken out of the ground before the first frost hits. Remove the stems and then gently lift them out, clean them of soil and then put them in trays of sand or dry compost, so only the top of the crown to be left visible. Find a cool place that isn’t subjected to frost to keep the trays and replant them when the weather gets warmer. If you live in a very mild area where there is no concern of freezing, you don’t have to take them out of the ground, you can protect them by covering the crowns with a thick blanket of mulch.
9. Test Your Soil
Now is the perfect time to test your soil in order to find out if there is a chance to improve it by adding nutrients and/or adjusting its pH level. Testing your soil is essential for revealing its pH but levels of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, as well as for organic matter and lead content. If the pH requires to be adjusted, lime is considered as a great addition and it’s particularly helpful to use in the fall as it will have all winter to dissolve into the soil. The pH level of the soil is important as it determines the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients. Many of the minerals and nutrients are optimally available to plants that are in soils that have a pH of between 6.5 and 6.8. If the pH of soil is below 6.0, meaning is acidic, or if the pH is above 7.0, the plants will not be able to absorb nutrients.
10. Shut Down Your Watering System
Whether you water with a garden hose or have an automatic irrigation system, now’s the time to being considering disassembling it as a good option to prevent damage from frost. If you live in a warmer climate, then you will only need to disconnect the system from a hose spigot and allow the water drain out, but if you live in a colder climate, you are required to use an air compressor to blast all of the water out or bring everything inside.
11. Clean Out Your Garden Shed or Storage Area & Prepare Your Garden Equipment
This is also the ideal time to clean up your garden shed or other garden storage area. If you have any old chemicals, first you need to find out how to eliminate them and then toss them out properly. Make sure you don’t store any of your garden tools, seed boxes, or old plant labels in your greenhouse, as these items can harbor pests and other disease, and it’s important to keep your green house clean and healthy. You should also clean the glass on the inside and outside regularly, as it enables you to maximize the short hours of daylight in the winter.
Keeping your gardening equipment clean and maintain them well by preparing them for the colder months of the year. Clean them well and then store them for the off-season. Wash off if there is any caked dirt and coat wooden handles with linseed oil to keep them from drying out and cracking. Make sure you sharp tools like shears and secateurs by yourself, or ask a professional.