By Jennifer Poindexter
When your garden is done, do you take the time to close it down? I used to be someone who looked at a dead garden and walked away for the season.
I get the temptation after working hard all summer to raise crops and store the harvest that when you wake-up, the fall morning when the frost finally kills it all, to take a deep breath and sit down.
Though it’s tempting to take a seat immediately after frost ends your gardening season, my quick tip may make you reconsider.
Here’s why you might want to close your garden when not in use:
Quick Tip: Close Your Garden When Not in Use
If you walk away from your garden when the season ends, you leave dead plants, bugs, and weeds right where they sit.
This is a problem. By leaving dead weeds and plants in your garden, you’re potentially leaving disease and pest infestations along with them.
The debris of the dead plants and weeds, provide more spaces for disease and bugs to hibernate. Also, by not tilling the soil, you’re leaving everything in the soil exactly where it sits.
All of this could create more trouble for you the next gardening season.
Closing a Traditional Style Garden Plot
After frost impacts my garden, we pull any stakes out of the area. Then we go over the entire thing with a bush hog.
If you don’t have a bush hog, pull up larger plants and then mow the rest of it down to ground level. This removes a lot of places for pests and disease to hide.
The next steps may vary depending upon which planting zone you live in. Where I live, the temperatures remain warm enough that the ground isn’t frozen solid throughout the winter.
In our case, we let the garden sit until after Christmas. Then we’ll till it up once in January to expose anything in the soil.
However, this leaves enough time for more frosts to occur which should freeze anything we brought to the surface.
We’ll till the garden again a second time in February to ensure everything is thoroughly worked and exposed to the cold temperatures to kill off any lingering pests or diseases.
Then we’ll till the ground again another time before planting.
If you live in a cold climate, you may have to till the soil right after frost impacts your garden while it’s still workable. Then till it again after it starts to thaw a little in the spring but before the final frost date.
Closing Down Raised Bed Gardens and Containers
From there, work the soil with a weeder or hoe to remove any remaining debris. Once this is complete, add a light layer of mulch to the area to protect the soil over winter.
The next year, till the beds during the time you’d amend the soil before adding plants back to the area.
If you’re gardening in containers, be sure to remove any dead plants and discard them. If your containers are easy enough to move to a covered area, then do so.
If not, then add a light layer of mulch to the containers for added protection to the soil. For the containers which can be moved and stored, you have two options.
The first is to dump the soil into a larger container, clean the planter, and store it until the next season.
Your second option is to leave the soil inside the container and put it in a space out of the elements. Then you’ll amend the soil prior to planting next year.
This may sound like more work, but in the long run, these tips could help keep your garden healthier throughout the growing season.
Take these tips into consideration when it’s time to close your garden down. Not only does it spruce up your gardening space over winter, but it also helps expose pests and diseases to freezing temperatures which might help with next year’s garden.