If you have enjoyed the fruits of your labor all summer long in the way of produce, you know how important it is to prepare a vegetable garden for winter. It helps to know what to do at the end of the growing season, as this can have a large impact on the next year’s harvest. These same ideas will also help you plan ahead and prepare an area for a garden if you’ve never grown one before.
Whether your proposed garden plot has had a garden there in the past or not, chances are there will be plant matter in the area. This could be plants which have yielded their last, or grass and weeds from the lawn. In either case you want to mark off the area you plan to use for your springtime garden. The best way to do this is to use wooden stakes pounded into the four corners, with colored tape to help you see the borders.
Divide the garden into five parts. One part will be set aside for plants which come back each year such as herbs, artichokes, rhubarb and asparagus. The remaining three plots will be rotated each year to ensure you don’t deplete the soil of nutrients.
Leave enough area between the parts to be able to walk and push a wheelbarrow through. This can be covered in gravel to keep weeds at bay, or you can use landscape fabric with bark chips to create a suitable surface. Of course, you don’t want to create such large sections to make it necessary to walk all over the beds. If you make the areas small enough, you should be able to reach the center from the side which means you’ll have less area to work.
Till under any organic matter which might be in the garden plot. You can also add any other organic materials such as manure or nutrients into the soil, and incorporate well. This will prepare the ground for the spring and provide any birds which are still around with a meal of any worms or insects which are in the soil.
Cover the entire garden with mulch to reduce the opportunity for winter weeds to grow. If you’d rather not use mulch because you may forget where the garden paths are, you can also sow a cover crop which will be tilled under in the spring.
Why not take advantage of the fact that you have the soil prepared and sow some winter vegetables. Carrots, onions and garlic can be planted in late summer to early fall. Allow the plants to germinate in the soil and cut back any green growth prior to the first frost. Cover them with mulch to keep the plants alive during the winter months and ready to grow come springtime.
Gardening is a time-consuming but rewarding experience. Think about preparing a vegetable garden plot for winter so it will have the best chance to succeed in the spring. Make some plans now on how you want to lay out the garden and what vegetables you want to plant, and then decide when to begin sowing seed indoors to be transplanted once spring arrives.