Winter is fast approaching. You’ve prepared your lawn care power equipment for the winter. Don’t forget to do the same for your vegetable garden.
Why Winterize A Garden?
The top reasons for winterizing a garden is that it looks better, it stops the spread of pests and diseases, and it extends the life of some perennials.
Tools Needed To Perform The Task
Of course, there are specific tools you will need to perform the task. They include:
• Hand Pruners
• Chipper or Shredder
Preparing Your Vegetable Garden For Winter
There are a series of activities that go into the winterizing of a vegetable garden. They include:
• Harvesting Vegetables
• Disposing of Debris
• Digging Leaves Into Soil
• Covering The Soil
As winter finally descends on your garden, you need to take precautions to protect the vegetables from the first light frost. If you ignore your vegetables when the frost arrives than you may loose some forever. So, it’s suggested that you cover them at night. Not only will your vegetables be saved, but it will also provide you with a little more gardening time.
If you don’t want to cover all of the vegetables, you can transplant some to a pot and store them in a garage for safekeeping.
Keep in mind that when you harvest tomatoes prior to the frost, chances are that they will be turning color because they’re reaching the mature stage. You know that they have reached this phase when they turn a faint yellow or pink on their shoulders. Pick them and put them into an uncovered box in a single layer and then place the box indoors so that indoor temperatures protect them.
Remove Debris And Protect Plants And Soil
This is also a good time to dispose of debris that always seems to accumulate at the end of the growing season when temperatures drop and kill plants. The killing zone for cold temperatures is 25°F to 27°F. The dead vegetables should be removed from the garden and trashed. It’s best not to leave them in the garden because they can host insect eggs and diseases. Don’t put the dead crop into a compost pile because it probably won’t heat up enough to kill pathogens.
You can also take this time to improve the soil for the next growing season. Simply mix the leaves that are on top of the soil down into the soil. This quickens decomposition and ventilates the soil.
Dig a trench about 8-inches to 12-inches deep and line it with leaves, then cover the trench with soil.
An experienced gardener knows that you don’t want soil to lay bare. Nature takes care of the issue when weeds are created that cover the soil during the growing season. Falling leaves protect the soil during the winter months.
Give nature a hand and cover the exposed soil. There are several ways to do this. For example, you can spread compost. The compost moistens and protects the ground and helps prevent erosion during the winter.
You can also spread shredded leaves as an alternative. Shredded leaves are less likely to be blown away. To assure this spread whole leaves on top to offer a place for butterfly larvae and eggs over the winter.
If you aren’t inclined to spread leaves over the ground, then you can plant a covering flora instead. Such plants can include clover, barley, millet, and winter rye. The cover is meant to stay for a short period and then it should be turned over into the soil to replenish it and enhance its texture. Plant the cover flora before winter sets in. It will grow quickly and provide protection for the soil during the coldest period of the winter.
Some vegetables that are hardy enough to resist the cold can be kept in the garden during the winter. Such vegetables as spinach can actually survive under a blanket of snow. Root vegetables, kale and broccoli can tolerate temperatures in the low 20s. However, you have to protect them. Create a hoop house over them. It will act like a greenhouse.
Mid to late fall is an ideal time to seed garlic. It will appear in the spring and can be harvested in the summer. Radishes are another vegetable you can plant as long as they’re in a cold frame or under a hoop house. Fall is also a good time to plant fruit including raspberries and blackberries. Take precautions and create mounds in the soil around the base of the berries to protect them from frost.
Finally, if you include perennials in your vegetable garden, mulch the ground so they’re protected during the winter.