By Heather Rhoades
As the cool weather sets in and the plants in our gardens fade, it is time to think about preparing the garden for winter. Fall garden clean up is essential to the long-term health of your garden. Keep reading to learn more about preparing a vegetable garden for winter.
Steps for Fall Garden Clean Up
When preparing a garden for fall, start by removing any materials used for supporting your plants from the garden, like bean stakes, tomato cages or trellises. Clean all of these items by wiping them down or spraying them with a 2 to 1 solution of water and bleach. This will kill any diseases that may be lingering on the supports.
The next step in cleaning the garden is to remove all of the spent plant material from the garden. Dead plants, old fruit and vegetables and any diseased plants should be removed from the garden beds and disposed of. If the spent plant material was healthy, it can be composted. If the plant material showed signs of disease, it should be disposed of - either in the trash or by being burned. If you compost diseased plant material, you risk re-infecting your garden next year with the same disease.
After this, another step in preparing a vegetable garden for winter is to spread compost, composted manure or other fertilizers onto the vegetable beds. You can also take this opportunity to plant a cover crop for the winter, such as rye, clover or buckwheat.
When to Start Preparing a Vegetable Garden for Winter
Typically, you want to start getting your garden ready for winter right after the first frost has killed off most of the annuals. That being said, you can certainly start fall garden clean up earlier than this if you see plants that are fading and no longer producing a harvest for you.
If you live in an area that does not get frost, you can take your cue from the appearance of your annuals. Once annual plants begin to brown and die, you can start cleaning the garden for the autumn.
Preparing a vegetable garden for winter will help your garden stay healthy from year to year. Getting your garden ready for winter is easy if you follow these easy steps.