Is Your Garden Ready for Winter?

The success of next year’s garden depends on proper preparation of your vegetable beds this fall. Clearing out dead plants, turning in some nice old compost for soil regeneration, and even planting some early spring crops is the perfect way to ensure the success of next year’s garden.

Insect Free: Taking all old leaves and plant debris off of your garden is the best way to prevent insects from overwintering in your garden. Old leaves on the soil surface provide a nice hiding place for insects, such as squash bugs, grasshoppers, and aphids. If you clear out old leaves and stems and compost them, insects have nowhere to hide. Freezing temperatures will help control next year’s insect population, and reduced debris on the soil surface will ensure freezing temperatures for insects on the sol surface.

Disease Free: Leaf and vegetable litter provides a place for other problems to reside also, such as tomato wilt. Collecting and throwing away diseased plants in the garbage or landfill will help keep diseases from reestablishing themselves next season. Many gardeners had difficulty with tomato blight, or wilt this past year. If this was the case in your garden, it is especially important to clear off all plants and fruits from this past season. Most spores from the tomato wilt will be thrown away with the plants and fruit.

Organisms in the soil will have time over the winter to decompose and distribute nutrients to the soil from compost for next year’s vegetables. Spread one to two inches of well-decomposed compost on the surface of your garden bed and turn into the soil well. Soil microorganisms will do the rest.

You can plant some early spring vegetables for early harvest in the spring after preparing your soil bed. These seeds will not germinate until soil temperatures warm enough for them to grow. Sowing spinach seeds, and planting your first couple rows of peas will allow for the earliest harvest. Garlic should be planted in the late fall, also, and should be planted in a drier bed than your peas and spinach.

You can finally sit back and enjoy that cup of tea after your fall beds are tilled and prepared for next season. Then you can start planning for next spring.

By Guest writer Betsy Woodworth .

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