Getting Your Garden Ready For Winter

Cleaning The Garden In Autumn –

Fall cleanup can make spring gardening a treat instead of a chore. Garden clean up can also prevent pests, weed seeds and diseases from overwintering and causing problems when temperatures warm. Cleaning out the garden for winter also allows you to spend more time on the fun aspects of gardening in spring and provides a clean slate for perennials and vegetables to grow.


Steps for Fall Garden Cleanup

A good first step is removing any materials used for supporting your plants, like bean stakes, tomato cages or trellises. Clean all of these items by wiping them down or spraying them with a two to one solution of water and bleach. This will kill any diseases that may be lingering on the supports.

One of the key aspects of fall cleanup is the removal of potentially problem pests and disease. When you rake up old leaves and debris, you are removing a hiding place for overwintering insects and pests. The old plant material left behind is a perfect refuge for diseases such as fungal spores, which can infect fresh new plants in spring.

Dead plants, old fruit and vegetables and any diseased plants should be removed from the garden beds and disposed of. If the spent plant material was healthy, it can be composted. If the plant material showed signs of disease, it should be disposed of  in the trash or by being burned. If you compost diseased plant material, you risk re-infecting your garden next year with the same disease.

After this, another step in preparing a vegetable garden for winter is to spread compost, composted manure  or other fertilizers onto the vegetable beds.

When to Start Preparing a Vegetable Garden for Winter

Typically, you want to start getting your garden ready for winter right after the first frost has killed off most of the annuals. That being said, you can certainly start fall garden clean up earlier than this if you see plants that are fading and no longer producing a harvest for you.

When to start? It is common sense in most cases. As soon as vegetables stop producing, pull the plant. When a perennial fails to bloom anymore, cut it back. When cleaning gardens don’t forget bulbs and tender plants. Any plant that will not survive winter in our zone (7) needs to be dug up and stored. Then they are put in the basement or garage where they will not freeze. Bulbs that cannot overwinter are dug up, cut back the foliage, dry them for a few days and then place them in paper bags. Let them rest in a dry area until spring.

Pruning Practices When Cleaning Up the Garden

As everything else in the landscape gets tidy, it’s hard to resist shaping and pruning hedges, topiaries and other plants. This isn’t a good idea, as it encourages the formation of new growth that is more sensitive to cooler temperatures. Wait until they are dormant or early spring for most evergreen and broad leaf evergreen plants. Do not cut spring flowering plants until after they have bloomed. Cleaning up garden plants with dead or broken plant material can be done at any time of the year.

Preparing a vegetable garden for winter will help your garden stay healthy from year to year. Getting your garden ready for winter is easy if you follow these easy steps.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Cleaning Up Garden: How To Prepare Your Garden For Winter