Preparing Your Garden for Winter

This morning was a sad morning at my house.  Jack Frost stopped by and brought my summer gardening to an end.  Now is the time to clean out beds, and get your garden ready for winter.

Here are five basic steps you can take to put your vegetable garden to bed for the winter.

--Clean out all the annuals. Any plant that isn’t going to come back next year needs to be pulled out by the roots and disposed of. Once they’ve stopped producing altogether, get them out of there.

--Cut back perennials. Many herbs (and some vegetables) will come back year after year. Cut them to about 2 inches above soil level once they’ve completely gone to seed and are no longer producing usable leaves.

--Compost all disease-free materials. Use all of the plant materials from this year’s garden to help nourish next year’s garden. Add raked leaves to the compost pile, too.

--Turn your soil. Turning the soil will help eliminate some pest problems next spring. Any grubs or eggs from undesirable insects will be broken up, brought to the surface and feed the birds this fall.

--Plant a cover crop. Planting a cover crop is easy. Oats and buckwheat or winter rye get scattered over the garden, covered with a light layer of soil and watered if needed. The cover will crop will die during the first hard frost and stay on your garden to protect it from weeds until you turn it under in the spring.