The nighttime temperatures are beginning to dip down into frosty ranges, and leaves are beginning to fall from the trees. Chances are your garden has seen better days and has stopped producing for the year. While it's incredibly tempting to overlook the dying plants and debris, it's important to spend some time outside, getting your garden ready for the winter.
These 6 tips will help you clean up your garden space and prep it for the season to come.
1. Remove dead plant material
As the season changes and your garden turns from green to brown, it's important to remove dead and/or dying plant material before winter sets in. Allowing the plants to overwinter has the potential to increase pests in the spring as well as diseases and fungus.
2. Clean compost bin
Colder winter temperatures will bring the bacteria and microbes in your compost pile to a screaming halt. If the compost is ready, fall is the perfect time to empty the compost bin and prep a new batch. Spread the compost around the base of sensitive plants to help protect them from the harsh conditions and add 2 to 3 inches across the rest of your garden beds.
3. Disinfect tomato cages
If your tomato plants were unfortunately struck by blight, it's important that support cages are properly disinfected to prevent the carryover of disease to the following year. Remove all dead plant debris, hose down the cages with water, then spray all surfaces with hydrogen peroxide or a bleach solution. Allow to dry in the sun, then store away for the winter.
4. Dig up tender bulbs
After a couple of nighttime frosts, it's best to dig up tender perennial bulbs and store them inside for the winter. This will keep them from dying when temperatures drop too low. Remove as much soil from the bulbs as possible, layer in a medium such as newspaper, sawdust, or peat moss and store in a cool, dry place that is about 50 degrees F.
5. Till the soil
After all the dead plant material and other debris has been removed and the compost has been added to the garden soil, till it really well. A good till will aerate the soil, break up any clods and mix in the compost. Over the winter months, the compost will begin to release nutrients into the soil and become available about the same time you will plant in the spring.
6. Update your notes
The final step to wrapping up your garden for the season is to write down some basic notes about how your garden grew. Did you have trouble with insects? Were there plants that didn't grow well in certain spots? Maybe you found a variety of tomatoes that performed really well. So, make a note of these things so you can revisit the information in the spring when you're planning your next planting.