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I’ve pulled up all my spent summer veggies—the tomatoes that didn’t have one more bud left on them, the squash that looked, well, squashed and the last crop of bush beans that just didn’t have any bean left. I’ve already planted some fall vegetables—I have some fat little kale plants, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli in right now.
But these cool-season veggies don’t take up nearly as much space as my summer veggies did so I do have some leftover space in my beds. There are some things I can do with my leftover space to ensure my garden is as good—or better—next spring.
First, I’ll remove all weeds and debris. Weeds and dead leaves, etc. are ideal hiding places for insect eggs and breeding grounds for diseases, so I’m gonna get them out of there. I rake and remove any old mulch for the same reason.
Then I’ll top dress my beds with about two to three inches of mixed composts—I use a mixture of mushroom or leaf compost and composted manure. The reason I used mixed composts is animal-based products (blood meal, fish or crab meal, cow manure) contain nitrogen but don’t have as much carbon as plant-based products. Carbon is necessary to maintain good soil structure.
Nitrogen is good, but too much nitrogen is not so I usually use a little more plant-based compost than animal-based compost—about two parts plant-based compost to one part animal-based compost. A small bag or two of green sand or dehydrated kelp is good, too. It helps to add micro-nutrients to the soil. I don’t even turn it under—I just let it sit over the winter and allow the winter precipitation to wash the nutrients down into the soil.
Over the fall and winter, I’ll periodically check to be sure the beds stay free of debris. Any weeds trying to get a finger hold are disposed of promptly. I’ll also check on my fall veggies just to be sure they’re staying weed and debris-free, too. Anything I can do now is one less thing I have to deal with in the spring…
You may have a special situation (lots of trees, soil conditions, etc.) calling for one or two other winter care preparation steps. Not to worry!
Stop by the Great Big Greenhouse! We’re always happy to talk gardening and we’ll help you take care of your specific garden challenges now so you can start your spring gardening off right.