How to Prep Your Vegetable Beds for Winter

I’ve you started a garden for the first time this spring but aren’t sure what to do with it now that everything is dying off then read on.  I found some great tips at the Home and Garden Television website and thought I would share them with you.

Harvest Everything

As the season winds down make sure to harvest and preserve everything you can. For some gardeners by this point the novelty has worn off and they get lazy, but I like to keep the garden going as long as possible. I harvest everything I can for as long as I can. And remember that if you’ve got more vegetables than you can eat, you can always take the extras and donate them to a food bank or shelter. There’s no need for good food to go to waste.

Clean Up

Once you’re sure that everything has been harvested, remove all the dead vegetation. This includes dead plants and any rotten fruits and vegetables you may have missed.  Then pull and remove all the roots. Most of this can go into the compost, but if you notice anything covered in mold or mildew it’s best to put it out with the trash. Depending where you live your compost may not get hot enough to destroy disease or fungus. Also, if you have a watering system now is the time to turn it off and disassemble it for the season.

Turn the Soil

Once I remove everything I like to turn the soil.  It loosens everything up (meaning it will drain better), it kills any remaining roots or weeds and it also mixes the nutrients. There are a lot of debates about whether or not turning the soil actually helps, but it’s always worked well for me.

Add a Layer of Compost

Once the beds are cleared of dead plants and the soil has been turned, add a light layer of mulch or compost. This will help to suppress weeds, protect the soil and also supply it with nutrients. But don’t make it too thick or it might prevent the soil from freezing in the winter (which will help kill any pests or diseases). 1-2 inches is enough. The idea here is to protect what’s going on underground during those cold winter months.

Take Notes

One of the most important steps – that most people don’t do – is taking notes on what successes you had during the season. I always jot down what I planted, what did well, how much I harvested, etc. Sometimes I get overexcited and plant too much, other times I plant a ton and don’t get a great return. And because my garden is organic, I’m always experimenting with different products and techniques. If you want to have a successful crop next year, don’t skip this step.