Putting the Garden to Bed

Even though it’s going to be 80 degrees here today, temperatures are going to plummet this weekend, with overnight low’s in the 40’s.  Fall is beginning to exert itself!

One of the chores I need to do is to begin putting the garden to bed for the winter.  I still have produce out there that needs to be harvested – tomatoes and beans, mostly.  I pulled up the carrots and sweet potatoes about a week ago.  I’ll bring everything in (even the green tomatoes – as long as they have ANY color on them, they will continue to ripen) and yank up the plants.  I don’t compost them in case of pests and disease, so out to the curb they go (in a landscape bag, of course).

This is a BEFORE shot.

before

After I clean it out, I need to get the soil ready for next year.  Yes, now! 

I plan to plant a cover crop, probably annual rye grass.  A cover crop will grow and cover your soil, then turn brown at frost.  Cover crops have many benefits – they help reduce erosion of your soil, help reduce weeds, and they return nutrients to your soil.  Instead of removing or harvesting, you simply turn the cover crop under like any other amendment. 

In addition to that, I need to put a layer of shredded leaves for additional nutrition and weed control.  Leaves are another great soil amendment.  Around here, though, I only have one or two trees that have started to drop their leaves.  I’ll mulch those up with the mower and empty the entire bag on top of the garden beds.  It will be a few more weeks until our leaves really begin to fall in earnest.  Anything I don’t need immediately goes into the compost pile.  I might even steal (kidding, sort of) some of the neighbors’ bagged up leaves.  They’re like gold – don’t let them go to waste!

I’ll also take some time to improve any paths and fencing or other areas that didn’t work so well for me this year.  And I want to dig a new bed or two for some additional things I want to grow.  I know I’ll have my hands full with seedlings in the spring, so it’s best to get as much maintenance as possible done now.

I’ll post an AFTER shot once it is all done.

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