Prepare Your Garden for Winter
It’s that time of year, again. We hope that it will come later and later each year. We pray for a few more days of sunshine and warm breezes. We wear flip flops until our toes our numb. But, it’s about time we admit it. Winter is coming, and it’s coming quick.
It’s time to winterize our lives. Break out the boots, sweaters, and gloves. Make sure each car has a snow scraper. Replace those bald tires. Bust out the crockpot.
I’ve already started the hunt for my winter gloves and hats – how is it that they always go missing?! And, chili is in the crockpot as we speak.
Check out My 5 Favorite (natural + nontoxic) Self-Care Products to help you relax this season.
We “winterize” nearly everything in our lives – and that should include our gardens.
As far as gardening goes, winter is obviously not my favorite time of year. The occasional harvest of winter potatoes has nothing on the heaps of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs that you snatch up in August.
But, the great thing about winterizing our gardens is that it will protect that precious, nutrient dense soil, AND save you time in the spring (when you have a million and one veggies to get in the ground). Once your garden is prepped for winter, you can forget about it for the next few months!
A good winter preparation will allow for next year’s planting to go off without a hitch. It will also save you work, time, and money.
Any and all structures should be removed from your garden for the winter. Quickly wipe them down with water or a gentle cleaning solution. Then, store them in a dry place for the winter to prevent rust/rot.
Weed before winter hits
I know, I know – I’m sorry. Truly. Weeding is the least enjoyable gardening task EVER. I get it. But, weeding NOW could save you from hours of weeding later.
If you weed your garden before the snow hits, you will prevent the weeds from spreading – over the winter and early spring. We know that weeds are hardy as F*$%, so they still have a chance to spread while the rest of your crops are long gone. Get rid of them now, and you won’t have to worry about it later.
Dispose of annuals
It’s easy to forget about your garden once the first frost hits. Your annuals will die, anyways, so why put in extra effort to pull them out of the ground? Well, if your garden caught a disease or bug over the summer, you’ll want to be sure that it doesn’t spread to next year’s crop.
You can dispose of diseased plants by tossing them in the trash or burning them. Whatever you do, don’t leave your diseased plants to decompose in your garden soil over the winter. And, don’t compost them, either. Both of these options would put the disease back into the soil – not good.
If you had a perfectly healthy garden this year, it’s still a good idea to uproot your annuals. Toss them into the compost – they will break down quickly and become nutrient dense soil that you can use in the spring!
If you’d like to learn more about composting – pop on over to my How to Start Composting Guide (+ Apartment Composting).
Don’t till your soil
No-till agriculture is a growing movement, but I’m not sure that it’s become mainstream yet. Without going full blown Bill Nye on you – here’s the basics. Carbon is stored underground – tilling allows that carbon to rise to the surface and is released into the atmosphere (hullo climate change). By switching to no-till gardening, you will release LESS carbon into the atmosphere.
No-till gardening is also a lifesaver for critters living underground. Critters and worms in your garden beds are GOOD. Worms naturally aerate the soil so that you don’t have to. Save yourself hours of work and start practicing no-till gardening. (And do some good for the planet)
Looking for more do-good type reads? Check out How to Avoid Produce Waste.
Cover garden beds with leaves
We typically dispose of yard waste by leaving (HAH) it in bags on our curbsides, right? This year, rake up your leaves and scatter them throughout your garden beds. A 4-inch layer of leaves will protect garden soil from winter erosion. Also, as the leaves decompose over the months, they will add delicious nutrients to your garden – making an ideal environment for spring planting.
A layer of leaf compost will also insulate your garden beds. Freeze/thaw cycles can wreak havoc on perennials. It’s best to keep a constant environment, such as a frozen ground, for the next few months. Then, when spring hits, you can thaw your beds once and for all.
It’s a good idea to prep your garden NOW before the frigidness is here to stay. I saw a neighbor putting up Christmas lights yesterday – going above and beyond to avoid the cold hah!
How else are you prepping for winter? I’m using natural ways to beat dryness in my home. You can, too, with this Humidify Your Home Guide.
My crockpot is also a winter MUST HAVE. Toss a bunch of veggies in there, some chicken, spices, and wa-laa! Somehow a delicious meal comes out every time.
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