Preparing the Summer Vegetable Garden for Winter

prep

Photo Credit: LawnCare by Tom

The summer growing season is coming to a end and is the start of next year’s vegetable garden as well.

After harvesting the last of the Veggie-Bed’s summer crops its time remove all the old plants. All the discarded plants are placed in a firepit to burn later; don’t want to take the chance of spreading problems next season.

hop

Photo Credit: LawnCare by Tom

“Besides looking untidy, old plants can harbor disease, pests, and funguses. According to Colorado State University’s cooperative extension, unwanted insects feeding on your crops throughout the summer may lay eggs on the plant’s stalks and leaves. Removing spent plants from the soil surface or burying them in garden trenches (if they are disease-free) prevents pests from getting a head start come springtime. Burying old plants in your garden also adds organic matter to your soil, improving soil tilth and overall health” (eartheasy.com) [1].

With all the old vegetation removed, the soil is tilled under (only several inches, don’t want to harm the earthworms or disturb the soil).  Lite-tilling (cultivating) the soil helps remove weeds and opens up the soil to incorporate organic amendments.

till

Photo Credit: LawnCare by Tom

“Fall is a good time to till your garden soil. This will reduce erosion, expose heavy soils to frost, kill exposed insects, aid the decay of organic matter, and enable earlier planting. Work in any organic matter you have available when you till. If you do this every fall you will find that your garden takes less time and work to prepare every year” (gardenguides.com) [2].

Planting a cover crop is the last undertaking to putting the Veggie-Bed to rest for the winter. Ryegrass is the choice for this winter. Using annual ryegrass helps keep the nitrogen in the soil and available for crops the following year.

Annual-Ryegrass-Field

Photo credit: ufseeds.com

“A cover crop is a plant that is used primarily to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases, increase biodiversity and bring a host of other benefits to your vegetable garden” (sare.org) [3].

Sources:

[1] https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/ten-ways-to-prepare-your-garden-for-winter/

[2] https://www.gardenguides.com/3030-fall-tilling.html

[3] https://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Topic-Rooms/Cover-Crops

Writer: Tom Myrick

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