Putting Your Garden to Bed
Your garden ready to get prepped for winter hibernation? ‘Tis the season to put your garden to bed for those long, winter months. First things first, forget those bedtime stories and blankets and pick up your pruning shears. Prepping your garden now can save you from yet another chore on your to-do list when spring cleaning comes around. All it takes is a little cleaning, pest control, and weed suppressing to get the job done right and get that garden to bed.
The first step to cleaning up your garden beds is removing all dead vegetation that might have accumulated. This will reduce the risk of any disease or pests spreading through your garden during the winter. Cut back your perennials until they are 2 inches above soil level. These are the plants that you will expect to see again in spring. Any healthy vegetation can be added to your compost pile, which you’ll be needing later on.
Soil TestingNext, move your mulch aside, tackle those pesky weeds, and cover your garden bed in a 1-2 inch layer of finished compost. Then, use the mulch to cover the bed in a thin layer that will ward off the weeds and protect your soil. Careful though, because too much mulch could end up insulating the garden bed. Your goal is for the soil to freeze over and kill any leftover diseases or pests. In other words, keep the warm blankets for yourself – your garden won’t be needing them this winter.
Time for a test. Did you study? Don’t worry, no test prep is needed with this one! Check your soil’s pH levels with an instant pH soil testing kit. This will tell you about your soil’s pH levels, lead content, and mineral content. Based on these results, you will be able to determine how much fertilizer you’ll need to improve your soil. If you want to raise the pH level in your garden, simply add lime, which will dissolve into the soil over the course of the winter. Soil Dr. Pelletized Lawn Lime is a great solution for soil that is also lacking calcium and magnesium.
Plant ahead! Now is the perfect time to plant some bulbs for spring. Whether you want to grow garlic or flowers, all you need to do is push that mulch aside, plant them, and wait it out. Don’t forget to cover your garden bed back up with mulch when you’re done, and add another layer after the first winter freeze occurs.
Don’t leave anything to chance – get yourself some leaves! Leaves are a great addition to your compost pile. If you have any leaves laying around your garden, gather them up with a rake and mix them in with your kitchen waste and remaining healthy vegetation. You can also add some leaves to the mulch that you layer over your garden bed. This will make your garden a welcoming home to beneficial organisms that will keep your garden functioning until spring.
Congratulations, your garden is ready to take on the winter! All that’s left to do is disinfect any gardening tools you used to avoid contaminating your spring garden with diseases from last fall. Now that your garden is safely put to bed, you deserve to get some sleep too!The last step to putting your garden to bed is tucking it in. Plant a cover crop like rye, oats, or buckwheat to help suppress weeds, disease, and pests. Cover crops will also protect the new bulbs you planted and ensure that nothing rots during the winter months by keeping the soil active. Water your covering crops as needed and watch them work their magic.