Putting Your Garden to Bed
You might be done gardening for the season, but there is still work to do. A little work now will give your garden a great start for spring planting. Here are some simple steps to get your garden ready for its cozy winter slumber.
The first step in getting your garden ready for winter is to clean out growth. Pull old vines and vegetable plants, but don’t just throw them away. You can compost plants as long as they are disease and insect free. If you don’t have a compost bin, you can simply run a mower over your garden to chop up old plants in place.
Up next is giving your garden’s soil a little TLC. First, test your garden’s soil. Fall is one of the best times of the year for soil testing. You can use an at-home test kit, but I recommend getting your soil tested professionally. Here in WV, you can get your soil tested for free through the WVU Extension service.
Amend your garden’s soil with aged manure, compost, or leaves. Fall leaves make an awesome soil amendment and it’s free! Apply a light covering of ammonium sulfate (20-0-0) at a rate of 1 lb. per 1,000 sq. ft., and then till it to a depth of 8 to 12 inches. Tilling will help leaves and plant debris compost in the soil during the winter, and it also helps prevent weeds.
Finally, get your fall and winter crops ready too. Protect plants with a blanket of leaves or straw. Use floating row covers to plants from frost. To extend the season even further, you can create a temporary cold frame using straw bales and reclaimed windows or plastic. (Check out this blog post for information on extending the growing season.)
“Winter should not be considered as only negation and destruction. It is a secret and inward working of powers, which in spring will burst into visible activity.” -Henry James Slack