by Jade Greene
As fall arrives, now is the time to get your vegetable and native plant gardens ready for the cold months ahead. Here are some tips to prepare your garden:
Tips for vegetable gardens:
- Remove dying vegetable plants: do not let your vegetable plants decay in the bed as they can continue to take up nutrients in the soil and can encourage disease.
- Composting vegetable plants: you can add many of your old veggie plants to your compost pile but avoid cucumber and squash (they can over take your pile) and nightshade plants (they can pass diseases into the compost pile)
- Add mulch and compost to your beds: after clearing your plants, add a fresh layer of mulch and/or compost to suppress weeds and and insulate your soil. It can also add nutrients for next year
- Cover beds with leaves or a tarp or even a cover crop: protect your plants that will overwinter (like strawberries), prevent erosion, and slow the growth of weeds in the spring.
- Plant garlic: now is the time to plant garlic
- Gather fallen leaves: gather and save some fallen leaves for mulching and compost. Make sure to leave some some leaves on the ground for insects to overwinter in
Tips for native plant gardens:
- Leave seeds and berries on plants: make sure to leave the seeds on your plants as they are important food for birds during the winter months
- Clear annuals: as stated above, do not let your annuals rot in the soil as they can encourage diseases next season
- Prune shrubs and trees
- Divide and plant bulbs
- Add a layer of mulch: mulch can help protect your plants against cold and retain moisture. Make sure to leave space between the plant/tree and the mulch for circulation and to prevent disease.
- Leave the leaves: take some leaves for your compost but leave the rest! Many insects, including butterflies eggs and bees, need the leaves to overwinter.