Preparing Garden for Winter

Winter is a quiet time for gardeners because there are no sowing, planting, or harvesting chores. But there are some winter preparations that need to be done before it is too cold and your plants are dead.

These practices can save your harvest, plants, and everything around to make the garden thrive in the growing season. So, let’s dive into this guide for preparing the garden for winter!

Also, check out Easy Fruits and Vegetables To Grow.

How to prepare garden for winter?

Winter lawn preparation is easy and doesn’t need much effort. You need to go with a plan and divide things step-wise. When you follow a proper sequence, you will be done with all tasks before winter arrives. Thus, start with a garden clean-up round, remove all fallen leaves, move heavy objects to shelter, and you are good to go with these preparation guidelines.

Vegetable garden winter preparation:

Preparing a vegetable garden for winter must be your first priority, as pre-winter planning makes it very easy to grow in the following fall. There are different vegetables, and probably every gardener has all of them. So, if your garden is full of vegetables, here are some necessary things you need to do with different varieties:

  • Tender vegetables like tomatoes, peas, beans, pumpkins, and winter squash are frost intolerant plants. Winter and frost can kill your vegetables, so make sure to pull these plants timely.
  • Similarly, Brussels, kale, collards, spinach, and garlic are hardy vegetables that can tolerate hard frost. You don’t have to worry about them. In fact, they get sweeter after frost.
  • Swiss chard, cabbage, and mustard greens are semi-hardy vegetables that mean they can withstand little frost but get damaged when hard frost sets in. One of the best options to protect such plants is to cover them with row covers or simply move pots indoors.

Work on garden beds

When it comes to preparing the garden for winter, you cannot forget garden beds. There will be debris, fallen leaves, or rotten veggies over there. Make sure to remove all these things and clean garden beds. Pull up the weeds and any stakes, cages, or strings you have used to support vines. Similarly, don’t let diseased leaves in the garden bed because the moisture increases in winter and the chances of plant diseases increases.

Your plant can develop blight, powdery mildew, or other fungal diseases, and if you leave rotten plants in garden beds, the diseases can spread to other plants and affect your next year’s harvest.

In addition to this, add a couple of inches of compost or manure on top of your beds before the ground freezes. Another option is to simply cover your garden bed with black plastic, a layer of cardboard, or even an old carpet to kill existing weeds throughout the winter season. 

Test and amend garden soil 

Soil is the base of your garden that provides nutrients, moisture, and support to grow your plants. But in the growing season, plants continuously use these nutrients, and the garden soil becomes nutritionally deficient till fall, and it is a great time to amend the soil.

If you think about why winter is the good time to amend soil during lawn preparation, remember, amendments are not ready to dissolve and take a while to break. They keep on breaking throughout the winter period to add nutrients in to the soil.

All you need to do is collect soil from 4-5 different areas of your garden about 6 inches below the surface. Mix well and perform soil tests with test kits or send samples to your local extension office. The test will give a clear picture of the soil condition, including its pH, organic content, and level of nutrients such as potassium, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur.

When everything is confirmed, you are good to amend the soil with any of the given approaches:

1. Compost

Compost brings new life to the soil as it refreshes nutrients and improves the overall health of your plants. You can make a compost bin to add kitchen or yard waste like leaves, grass clippings, fruits, vegetable peels, and even tea bags to use as compost.

2. Manure

Amending garden soil with manure is a cost-effective way to add organic content. It prevents the waste of nutrients during winter rainfall and improves moisture content of the soil. Sheep, chicken, horse, and even cattle manure are good choices to be used for garden winter preparation.   

Winterize irrigation system:

The lawn irrigation system is most susceptible to winter damage and winterizing the system is the best solution to save it. The pipes, hoses, and valves have a special configuration in each irrigation system to water your garden. If you leave these systems without winterizing, water will freeze in the pipes.

This frozen water expands and exerts pressure on the hose lines that can damage or even break your system.

So, make sure to winterize your irrigation system before the temperature hits the freezing mark and your hose lines are broken.

Don’t forget mulching!

 Mulching before winter must be included in your to-do list for preparing the garden for winter. When you add a thick layer of mulch to the soil surface, it helps to regulate soil temperature and moisture. It acts as a barrier between the soil and the changing weather. Your garden soil shows less water loss; the soil erosion is prevented above all, mulch breaks down to add fresh organic material into your soil.

5 pro tips for preparing garden for winter:

  1. There are no extensive gardening tasks in the winter, so it would be a great time to clean and sharpen the blades of gardening tools.
  2. Repair broken equipment, garden beds, and drip lines to save time and effort in the growing season.
  3. Fall is the best time to prune perennials. Focus on roses, herbs, and vegetable plants, and remove crossing canes to control vigorous plant growth.
  4. Use wooden structures to protect small trees and shrubs from heavy snow.
  5. Store empty garden pots and seed trays to prevent exposure to mold and other diseases.  

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