Maintaining a garden is a year-round endeavor. I always look forward the excitement of planning, prepping, and planting in the spring time as well as the harvests of summer and autumn. But, did you know that one of the most important things you can do to ensure you have a thriving garden come spring, is to maintain and prep your garden for winter? It is actually quite a simple process that is vital to the health of your future plants. Follow these simple steps to prepare your vegetable garden for winter.
- Remove finished plants
When plants have finished producing and you have harvested all of the goodies, remove the plant leaves and stalks. By letting them wither, die and ultimately rot, you are creating a breeding ground for insects that can harm the success of the crops you plant next year. Plus, who want to look at ugly dead plants? Once removed, feel free to add the healthy, disease-free plants into your compost pile, they will help create organic material to feed the soil next year.
- Prune perennials
Everyone likes a good clean-up, including plants. By trimming back dead leaves, stems and branches from your bushes, shrubs and fruit trees, you are helping to stimulate future healthy growth. Don’t pull an Edward Scissorhands and just chop them haphazardly. Consult a pruning guide to properly remove branches so you benefit your plants, and don’t accidentally kill them.
- Remove weeds
Weeds like to creep up into gardens and overtake everything, obviously, that is just their nature. Make sure you fully remove all weeds that have cropped up over the course of the season, otherwise they will be back with a vengeance next year, and will be harder to cut back!
- Plant bulbs
Now is the time to plant bulbs! In a previous post, I have discussed how to plant bulbs to have a beautiful display in early spring. Click here to read that post and be the talk of the town with your blooms this spring!
- Time to compost
Remember the compost pile that you started way back at the beginning of spring? Don’t worry if you haven’t started one yet, click here to check out our blog post on Composting for Beginners to get you started!
If you have created a compost pile, well it’s probably done cooking and it’s time to amend your soil with it! Top off the dirt in your raised beds or put the compost directly on the soil in your garden to amend it. This rich, organic material will feed your soil all winter long, increasing the nutrients and making it healthy for planting next spring!
We all know mulching in the spring and summer is important to keep moisture around our plants, it’s also important to do so in the winter. Mulching protects the soil from getting too dry and cracked during winter months, and allows it to stay healthy during cold spells.
- Prepare for frost and snow
This is the place to enter the classic Game of Thrones quote, “Winter is coming.” With that in mind, make sure you have polyspun fabric on hand to wrap fair weather garden friends, such as citrus trees and other annuals. Or make a plan to bring citrus or other freeze intolerant plants indoors for the winter.
- Make a plan for next spring
Buying seeds to germinate for next year? Go ahead and figure out what you want to plant and your plan to germinate now, so you are not scrambling next year. Hoping to propagate plants this winter? Take cuttings of your favorite succulents and hot house plants, such as begonias, to plant and establish indoors while it’s cold outside!
- Build for the future
Hoping to expand your garden next year? Now is a great time to build raised boxes and establish the soil in them for next year. Need to learn how to build raised boxes? We’ve got you! Check out our blog post, click here, to learn step-by-step instructions on how to build your own, it’s actually a pretty simple DIY!
What other steps do you take to prep your winter garden? I’d love to hear them in the comments below! Happy gardening, everyone!