Winter Garden Preparation Tips for New Gardeners
Perhaps you have planted a fall garden, full of greens and kohlrabi. It is an awesome time to experiment with new crops and even better, you don’t have to water as much. Fall is a great time to plant garlic for July and August harvesting. For those of you that have not planted a fall garden but would like to get a head start on a garden in spring, we have some helpful tips.
As you are cleaning out your garden area, be gentle with pulling and removing items. Pull out only what comes easily. What you leave behind will feed the microbes in the soil and they will digest this food and produce humus. That humus provides nutrients for your plants and helps keep your soil moist and aerated. If you have any plants with disease, remove the entire plant so that the disease doesn’t overwinter.
Improve the Soil
Once you have cleaned out the dead plants, move aside any mulch you had on your beds. Next, add a layer of about 2” of compost. After you have your layer of compost, you can move the old mulch on top of your compost. Do not add the mulch as insulation, not yet. Mulching the beds too thick will prevent the soil from freezing completely. That may allow diseases and pests to remain in the soil. You want to wait until the ground freezes before adding a thicker layer of mulch.
Taking into account that your soil is now going to be laying fallow over winter, you should consider boosting the amount of organic matter. You will want to balance adding raw organic material with additional nitrogen or granular fertilizer. This will prevent microbes in the soil from depleting the nitrogen. Shredded leaves are one option for raw organic matter. You or your neighbors may have a plentiful supply of leaves. Break the leaves down by mowing them over several times or invest in a leaf shredder. From there, you can add in a granular all-purpose fertilizer.
The time you invest now, this fall, will pay off next spring and summer. We look forward to you sharing pictures of your beautiful gardens!