Putting your garden to bed for winter is very valuable, and a few careful steps executed now will save you effort in the long run! Here are a few ways you can prepare so you can jump right into planting season come spring.
Why Winterize a Garden?
Preparing your garden for winter is good housekeeping. It looks better than a tangled mess of dead plants, plus it cuts down on the spread of pests and diseases. Not to mention it saves you time in the spring – you won’t be starting from scratch! The time you take to winterize things now will come back to reward you when you begin to start gardening again next year.
How to Winterize Your Garden
Tidy Up the Garden
As the gardening season begins to wind down, you might find yourself taking more time to harvest and cook rather than weed or water. But as winter draws closer, it’s time to get back to tending to weeds, composting dead plants, and gathering other clutter that accumulates over time. By taking the time to tidy up your garden, you’ll deal with fewer pests, diseases, and weeds later.
Remove any dead plant material and rotten vegetables or fruits. If your plants were unhealthy with blight or mildew, dispose them with household trash or burn them to avoid spreading to your compost pile. Pull up any weeds that may have taken advantage of your harvest-season distraction and pull out any stakes, cages, or strings that may have supported your peas, tomatoes, and vines.
Amend Your Soil
Gardening soil needs nourishment just as much as the plant life it supports. Some people will reserve this activity for spring, but fall is a great time to add soil amendments. Adding nutrients at this time of year means they have time to start breaking down, enriching your soil, and becoming biologically active. Amending now also means you’ll have already done some of the work when the busy season hits.
To find out what your soil needs, you’ll want to test your soil. Testing will tell you if your soil is acidic, alkaline, or neutral, and that will tell you if you need to add fertilizers. If you’re not sure what amendments you need after testing, we can help choose what will best help your soil.
Cover it in Mulch
Mulching in the winter has many of the same benefits as mulching in the summer. This includes reducing water loss, protecting soil from erosion, and inhibiting weeds. But winter mulching has other benefits as well. As the soil transitions to colder weather, the freezing and thawing of the earth can affect garden plants. The heaving and churning the soil goes through can be harmful to plant roots.
Adding a thick layer of mulch to your soil’s surface will help regulate the soil’s temperature and moisture, and will ease it into cold winter weather. And as it breaks down, it incorporates fresh organic material into your soil. Just cover your soil in a layer 1-3 inches thick with the mulch of your choice. You can use leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, or even compost. Use what you like, but the key is to make sure you use a good organic source.
General maintenance may not be the most exciting way to end the gardening season, but it’s a wonderful way to jump-start your spring gardening now. Plus, after you’re done, you’ll feel accomplished by completing these final gardening projects. These can include:
- Clean, sharpen, and oil your gardening tools. Over the season, they can become dull and dirty. If you leave them to sit over winter, they can become rusty and that will shorten the lifespan of your tools. Take the time to thoroughly clean, sharpen, and oil your tools, so they are ready to go next spring.
- Wash and store your seed trays and plant pots. When you take care to wash and properly store your trays and pots, it’ll keep mold and potential disease from growing and spreading.
- Fix broken garden equipment. If you have broken drip irrigation, a hole in a hose, or doors falling off your garden shed, now is the time to fix everything up.
- Expand your garden. Without the hassle of maintaining or growing, you have spare time to decide if you want to expand your garden for next year. It’s the perfect time to add more gardening beds and clear that space of weeds.
Helping You Say Goodnight to Your Garden
Take the time to prepare now, and your garden will be waiting and ready for planting in the spring! If you need help putting everything to bed, we are happy to help. We have the soil amendments, mulch, and compost you need to prepare. Beaver Lakes Nursery & Landscape Supply is located in beautiful Montrose, Colorado, and we can’t wait to help you grow!