Winterizing the vegetable garden is an important fall activity that will help ensure success in your garden next year.
A few hours of work now will make a huge difference in making your future garden a success.
Winterizing The Vegetable Garden – 3 Easy Steps
1) Destroy Plant Debris
By the time fall rolls around and a few touches of frost have hit, what’s left in our garden looks pretty awful (see photo below – I’m embarrassed at how bad it looks!).
But, now’s the time to remove and destroy (not compost) all the remains from this year’s vegetable plants.
It’s important to remove and destroy the old vegetation because many vegetable pests survive from year to year on old plant debris.
Being careful about removing plant vegetation helps prevent insect and disease problems from starting next spring and summer.
2) Add Compost (Fertility)
After getting all the plant debris removed from the garden, it’s a good idea to add compost. I add a layer of well-composted chicken and goat manure to each garden bed. For more on how we use compost see: Why Composting Is Good For Your Garden.
The manure has been composting for over a year and has broken down into an easily spreadable (and very valuable) addition. In the photo below, I’ve added compost to the first half of the bed – you can see how dark and rich the compost looks compared to the rest of the soil.
The compost returns nutrients (particularly nitrogen) to the soil and helps ensure rapid and lush vegetable growth in next year’s garden.
3) Cover With Mulch
After adding compost, I like to get a good layer of mulched leaves on the beds to help keep everything (particularly moisture and nutrients) in place. Winter rain, snow, worm, and insect action will help everything decompose and add tremendous fertility to the soil by next spring.
The picture below shows the leaf additions to the first half of the bed.
What Winterizing The Vegetable Garden Creates
When we began with these garden beds, the soil was compacted clay, and difficult to work or grow anything in.
But after just a couple of years, by following these 3 easy steps, the improvement in the soil has been incredible. The soil is now friable and easy to work. The garden also produces some amazing produce for us and the number of bad bugs (insects that eat your crops) has decreased dramatically.
It takes some work each fall, but the garden just gets better every year!
The photo above shows the vegetable garden after the removal of spent vegetation, composting, and mulching. The winterizing steps will help ensure an insect free and fertile garden next year.
Soon, the seed catalogs will be here, and I can fantasize about next year’s garden – knowing I’ve done the cleanup and added the fertility needed to make it spectacular.