Even with apple picking and back-to-school on your mind this fall, don’t forget to put your summer garden to bed for the winter! If you put forth just a little extra effort in winterizing this fall, you’ll be rewarded with great time savings and a garden that’s ready to go in the spring when it’s time to tackle planning and planting the garden again. (featured image via Remodelaholic)
Pull Out Dead Plants
I know what you’re thinking: “But they’re dead! I can just let them rot over the winter!” Yes, you can, but that also means that any spores left from diseases or blights or eggs of obstinate bugs will be allowed to live in your garden over the winter. They are pretty hearty little buggers and might just rear their ugly heads again next summer. Pull out and dispose of all the dead plants in your garden to start with a clean, healthy slate in the spring.
Nearly the same principle applies to weeds as it did above to disease spores. If you pull out the weeds now, you’ll have fewer of them re-growing in the spring, which you’ll have to pull out anyway. Bonus: pulling older weeds now is much easier than pulling newer, stronger ones next year!
Rake Out the Old Mulch
Unless you mulch only with compost or newspaper, which can be tilled back into the soil in the spring, rake out all your hay or bark mulch. If it is allowed to become incorporated into the garden, it can significantly change the pH of your soil; that can affect how well your plants will grow – if at all. If you’re feeling very ambitious, go ahead and add a layer of compost or mulched leaves for the winter, too, which will add some extra nutrients next spring when you till them into the soil.
Tidy Up Your Tools
Just as you wash your pots and pans when you’re finished cooking, so too should you clean up your gardening implements to ready them for next year. If you have any outdoor pots or containers, empty them, hose them out and store them out of the weather so they won’t crack or break. Also, give all your hand tools a quick scrub in some soapy water, hose them off and let them dry; you can even coat metal tools with a think layer of vegetable oil to prevent them from rusting over the winter.
Julianne Puckett is the creator of Yankee Kitchen Ninja, a blog about what she calls “stealthy homemaking” — healthy recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, DIY gardening tips and the occasional craft project. A designer, writer and former suburban-dwelling IT professional, she lives in rural Vermont, where she struggles to balance the siren call of her inner farmer with her love of cute shoes and cocktails.