When the gardening season is over, it's easy to get distracted from the pre frost cleaning. However, learning how to prepare a raised garden bed for winter is crucial to preparing for the coming season, even if spring has passed for several months. In this article, Garland, a gardening expert will show you how to prepare the garden bed for winter with 6 steps.
Proper care of raised garden beds before winter will promote soil health, prevent weeds, and prevent disease in next year's crops. This is the way to prepare raised garden beds for winter.
Step 1: Remove weeds
Weeding is essential until autumn, even if most of your crops have stopped growing. Weeds left unattended in autumn will not only breed diseases, but also lay the root of future weed problems.
"This is the time when people are ready to finish weeding, but it may be one of the most important weeding times of the year," Garland warned. "Many of our weeds are bearing seeds now. Some seeds can live for 30 to 40 years or more."
For raised beds that are only covered with weeds, cover them with black plastic or a layer of cardboard, and leave them in place throughout the winter to kill existing weeds and suffocate sprouting weeds.
Some gardeners will cultivate the soil to prevent weeds and exposure to harmful pests, but Garland recommends avoiding planting on raised beds as much as possible for the sake of soil health.
"In some cases, [farming] makes sense, but it doesn't seem to make much sense in an raised bed environment [unless the soil is really compacted]," Garland said. "If you can avoid farming as much as possible, your soil and garden will thrive in the long run."
Step 2: Clean up dead plants
After the first frost, you should start to clean up used and decayed plant materials. However, before you begin, Garland suggests taking notes and photos in your garden diary.
"These photos are very helpful for the planting process in the coming year," Garland said. "You think you will remember the location of all the things you planted, but having photo records to ensure that you are rotating crops is just a good insurance. [It can also help you] remind yourself what you really like in the garden, what you don't like, or what diseases you have that you haven't found."
In addition to being unattractive, old plants can breed pests and pathogens. Healthy plants can be added to the compost pile, but plants with mold or fusarium wilt should be disposed or burned together with household waste to avoid spreading diseases.
"But before that, harvest as much as possible," Garland said. "For your tomatoes, if you happen to have a lot of green tomatoes, you can harvest them and let them mature from the vine. Don't just throw them into your compost pile."
Some crops will continue to grow and become sweet a few weeks after frost - such as root crops such as carrots, or leafy green vegetables such as kale - but make sure to remove the uncultivated material before the ground freezes.
"This includes picking up those rotten tomatoes," Garland said. "If you plant tomatoes for more than one season, you will know that those seeds on your small tomato plants can keep alive in winter and turn into weeds by themselves."
If your plant is free from disease and you do not want to disturb the soil, consider cutting the plant at the soil level and leaving the roots underground.
The cutting method has several advantages. Garland said that in one of her gardens, she had a black plastic waterproof cloth with carefully cut holes for transplantation, which she wanted to use again next season.
"In that special case, I don't want to pull out those plants and tear up the plastic," Garland said. "I hope [next year] I can plant a seedling next to the old stump. I'm trying to minimize the interference to the soil and black plastic, [and] in the next year, that stump will be broken."
Cutting plants at the soil line also prevents additional interference with the soil in the raised garden bed. However, it takes more time than simply pulling up dead plants.
"Cutting things out is much more than pulling them out," Garland admitted. "But if you have time to cut them off on the soil line and you are building a smaller garden, try it. You have less interference with the soil."
Step 3: Add compost and other organic material
Adding a layer of compost to a clean raised bed will help ensure a nutritious environment when spring comes.
"Adding organic matter to your soil would be the logical next step," Garland said. "If you add organic matter to the soil, just top dressing. In winter, the natural cycle of freezing and thawing will help absorb these substances. When you plant, these added substances will also be added and incorporated into your soil."
Garland said that unlike underground garden beds supported by natural soil, raised beds may experience some soil shrinkage during the year. In this case, she suggests adding an additional conditioner to the soil of your raised garden bed.
"If your garden shrinks a lot, that may mean you need more stable materials," she explained. "Loam is a combination of sand salt and clay that is suitable for plant growth. It is a good material that will not disappear and will help to retain a large amount of material on your raised bed."
Step 4: Plant cover crops, or add mulch
In winter, covering crops can prevent erosion, prevent weeds and keep the soil of raised beds healthy. However, it is important to choose the right mulch crop and know how to manage it. Some covered crops will die in winter, but other crops will overwinter and may become weeds.
"My favorite [mulch crop] at this time of year is oats," Garland said. "This is a fast growing crop that can grow in relatively cool temperatures. It [also] dies out reliably in winter in our region."
The material left by oats is also beneficial to plant growth.
"Oats will eventually become a good little mat for dead organic matter on the surface of the soil, and you don't have to incorporate it into it," Garland said. "A small gardener can carry out complete plant transplantation in dead oats. If you leave that mat on the soil, it can actually serve as an early cover. It blocks the light of the inevitable weed seeds in the soil. If it happens to be a dry spring, it helps to keep water. In general, it is just a good additive. It will not be a good cover for the whole season, but it is a A good early cover. "
Although ideally, oats should be sown at the end of August or early September, Garland said she had sown at the end of October and had achieved some success.
"You just don't get as much growth from it," she said. "It will never hurt to try it, even if it is a little late now. You can always try a little and save the remaining seeds for planting next year."
If you do not plant mulch crops, consider covering the soil to prevent the conditioner from being washed below the root (this is especially important in raised beds, which drain faster than underground beds) or adding a layer of organic mulch. When the mulch decomposes, it will also incorporate fresh organic matter into the soil.
"The easiest way is to add the leaves of deciduous trees to your garden," Garland said. "[If you don't do mulch crops], this is a great thing. You kill two birds with one stone."
Step 5: Take care of perennials
Even year-round plants need some pre frost maintenance. Autumn pruning is good for some types of perennials, but make sure you understand the care requirements for plants in your garden.
Garland said: "Any plant with woody tissue needs to be pruned for specific crops, such as blueberries, raspberries or any more woody herbs." "But you can eat less things like chives."
For example, blackberry bushes will benefit from autumn pruning, but raspberry vines will continue to nourish the crown of the plant until winter. You should also wait until spring to pick blueberries to protect plants from disease and stress.
Focus on autumn pruning herbs - although Garland says some of the more sensitive herbs, such as rosemary, are best dug up and stored indoors - as well as vegetables such as asparagus and rhubarb.
Step 6: Add season extenders
Spring is a busy time for gardeners. When you are working on other winter preparations for your raised bed, use your time to build any season extender you may want to use on your raised garden bed next spring.
"[So,] your garden is ready, and next spring you will have a mini house," Garland said.
These gardening jobs may seem boring, but in the spring, you'll appreciate taking the time to learn how to prepare an raised garden bed for winter.