This year, newly constructed raised bed gardens popped up throughout the spring as people rediscovered their love for gardening. But now that winter is coming, we want to make sure all your hard work keeps paying dividends for years to come. With that in mind, here are a few important steps to take to ensure your veggie beds are ready to go next spring:
#1 Clean up old, finished, or rotting plants.
Old, decaying plants don’t just make your garden look messy. They can become a breeding ground for disease, unwanted pests, and fungus. As soon as the season comes to a close, it’s important to get rid of them.
If your plants are disease-free, you can trim them down and toss them in your compost pile. If they are affected by blight or fungus, place them directly in a burn pile. And don’t forget to weed! Many pesky weeds are going to seed right now, so this is also the most important time of the year to remove them before they propagate. Otherwise, your weeding work might be twice as difficult next year. To ensure they don’t cause problems with next year’s crop, place all invasive weeds in your autumn burn pile.
#2 Give some love to your soil.
While most people save this step for springtime, preparing your soil in autumn has its benefits. Over the winter, the cycle of freezing and thawing will help break the nutrients down and work that top layer into the soil below. That means a richer, more nutrient dense soil to nourish your garden next spring! Once your raised bed is clean and cleared of decaying vegetation, add a layer of compost and grass clippings on top.
#3 Mulch root veggies for winter harvest.
If you have root veggies that can be harvested well into the fall and winter–like carrots, parsnips, and Jerusalem artichokes–laying a thick layer of mulch around these vegetables can help to protect them from hard frosts and prolong your harvest time. And once your crop is done, the mulch will break down into the soil over the winter, providing fresh organic material and nourishment.
#4 Take care of your perennial food crops.
Perennials are valuable assets to your garden. They are generally low maintenance and will feed you for years to come. Some popular perennials include rhubarb, watercress, garlic, kale, asparagus, and Jerusalem artichoke. These crops will come back every year without much effort on your part. However, some care must be taken before winter. While some of these crops, like kale, can continue beyond the first frost, it’s important to complete your harvest, cut shoots down, and mulch these crops before the ground freezes. This is also a good time to plant garlic and other bulb crops.
A little bit of effort before the winter freeze will go a long way towards making your home garden a success next year. We’re happy to support in any way we can–winter, spring, summer, or fall! Reach out to the Nature Works team with any questions.