winterize 3 steps

“The sun has gone to bed and so must I…” While your gardening year may or may not have been as successful as a Rogers and Hammerstein musical, you’ll still need to think about giving your garden a rest. It’s a break for both you and the soil that produced many a pretty plant (hopefully).

Over the years, I’ve tried different methods of winterizing our garden. When we had a traditional row garden, I used tarps to try and keep the weeds down and the ground (slightly) warmer. Now that we’ve started square-foot gardening, I’ve been mulching our beds in the winter. It’s simple and effective; here’s what we do:

  1. Clean out any leftover (i.e. dead) plants and any debris that won’t break down.
  2. Use a garden rake to even out and break up the top layer of soil. (I prefer a bow rake, since its strong rake head breaks up dirt and grab left behind roots.)
  3. Optional: Add a layer of compost to feed the soil over the winter months. (Don’t know how to compost? Check out How to Start Composting!)
  4. Spread a layer of mulch over the top of your soil. Voila!

I’ve also heard of folks using hay to winterize gardens, so if that’s what you have on hand, go for it!

Update (Oct. 2016): Last winter I mulched two beds in pine bark mulch and two beds in cedar mulch. The beds mulched with pine turned out great, while those mulched with cedar eventually grew weeds and had some bugs. It could have simply been that specific batch of mulch, but I’ll be shying away from cedar mulch in the future.

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