Many people believe that winter is the time of year to step away from your garden and take a break. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! There are many things you can do this winter to tidy up your garden and prepare for spring. The more prepare you are now means you’ll have less work to do in the spring. We outlined 7 steps to help you prepare you garden for the winter.
1. Keep an eye out for weeds
Remember all those weeds that started to take hold during the growing season?
Most weeds can still survive in a compost heap or weed pile, so don’t try to shift them off to another part of the garden. You must remove the weeds completely from your garden in order to prevent them from sprouting up again.
2. Tidy up the garden
It may not feel like it, but now is the time to focus on cleaning up the garden. The more time you spend now cleaning things up, the less problems you’ll have in the spring.
Take this time to clear out dead, dying, diseased plants and other garden debris. Pests love to live in your garden debris in the winter, so clearing it out now will help keep the unwanted bugs out.
3. Amend your soil
Fall and winter is an excellent time to add soil amendments like manure and compost. Organic fertilizers like bone meal, kelp, and rock phosphate are also great additions to your soil. Adding nutrients during this time of year gives things time to break down, enriching your soil and making it biologically active.
Amending your soil now leaves you with less work to do by the time spring comes. Once you’ve added your amendments, mulch your soil or sow a cover crop to prevent winter rain from washing it below the active root zone. This is especially important for raised beds since they tend to drain more than in-ground beds. When spring comes, remove the mulch before new planting.
5. Prune Perennials
Fall and winter is a great time to trim some of the perennials in your garden. But make sure you’re picking the right plants to prune.
While it may be tempting to prune back your perennial flowering plants, resist the urge. These plants make excellent meals for birds in your neighborhood, especially plants covered in seed heads.
6. Plant cover crops
Planting cover crops help prevent soil erosion and increase levels of organic matter in garden beds. They also add nutrients and help your soil draw carbon from the atmosphere.
Rye, vetch, or clover are great cover crop plants to add to your garden. While you generally want to plant cover crops before the first killing frost, some crops are hardier than others. Visit your local garden center to identify the best cover crops for your area.
7. Reflect and plan for spring
With this year’s success and failures fresh in your mind, take some notes about your growing season. What plants did well? What struggled? Did you have problems with pests? Some gardeners like to take extensive notes on their gardening year. Keeping notes will help you stay prepared for the spring and increase your chances of of success.
We hope this guide helps you get the motivation you need to get busy this winter and prepare your garden for a beautiful and successful spring!