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Putting the Garden to Bed for the Winter

Putting the garden to bed for winter keeps the soil biologically active, prevents weeds, and prepares the space for spring planting during the cold winter months.


Cover Crops

There still may be time to get winter cover crops started in the garden, depending on your location. Even if you don’t have time to plant cover crops for the winter, there will still be time to plant them in early spring to “wake up” the soil biology before summer planting.


We are in the season of ample free mulch. While tree leaves don’t offer much in the way of nutrients, they do break down and add valuable humus to the soil. Humus is what gives you that loose, crumbly soil that those of us with clay soil so desire. Whole or shredded leaves can be added to the soil once crops are removed. This process insulates the soil, prevents winter weeds, prevents soil compaction from rain and snow and protects from erosion. Never leave the soil bare over the winter.


If you have been working hard all year to make compost from kitchen scraps, this is a great time to add it to the garden. Over time, the nutrients collected in that compost pile will leach out, fertilizing the soil under the compost pile. Go ahead and move that pile to your garden beds so those nutrients are located where they are most useful.

The best spring gardens begin in the fall. Putting the garden to bed for the winter will keep those beautiful soil bacteria and fungi healthy and happy all winter, creating an environment ready for your spring crops when the weather warms again.

What do you do to put your garden to bed for the winter?

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The Restoration Garden by Tiffany Selvey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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