Let’s talk about winterizing. A lot of people, including myself, thought you could just let the garden go once you collected all you wanted from the garden. But I’ve realized over time that it would be like having a one way friendship with someone, it just doesn’t work.
First lets go into WHY winterizing your garden is important:
- By composting all your left over annual plants and vines it prevents the build up of diseases.
- It also gets ride of nasty bugs that would hang around in the dead plants waiting for next year’s vegetables. (Composting reaches high heat levels which kills off diseases and bugs that otherwise would live if left in the garden.)
- Cleaning out your annuals gives you a chance to build up your compost and get some great dirt filled with nutrients for next year’s garden.
How to winterize your STRAWBERRIES:
This was my first year growing strawberries and it was such a fun experience. We had about 20 plants that produced all summer and are still producing a few berries today!
JUNE BEARING STRAWBERRIES: One/two weeks after they have stopped baring fruit take a pair of scissors or use a lawnmower and go over your berry plants to cut them back. This will help increase your production for the following year.
EVER BEARING STRAWBERRIES: I’ve heard of a few people that will cut their berries back the same way they do their June Bearing plants, but most people recommend leaving them be. But make sure you cut off all the runners and replant them or compost them.
FOR JUNE BEARING and EVER BEARING STRAWBERRIES: Before the first hard frost sets in, cover your strawberries with 4-6 inches of straw and cover with a wire mesh of sorts to keep the straw from blowing away during the season.
How to winterize your RHUBARB, ASPARAGUS, HORSERADISH, GARLIC, and other Perennials:
Mulch, mulch, mulch and more mulch.
Rhubarb: Mulch with organic matter and well rotted manure.
Asparagus: Mulch with 4-6 inches of chopped leaves, hay or straw. Remove the mulch in the spring.
Horseradish: Mulch only if you live in particularly harsh areas. Otherwise no mulch is needed.
Garlic: Mulch with chopped leaves, grass hay or alfalfa. Avoid grain straw if you can which can host curl mite that can attack garlic.
WINTER GARDENING AND COVER CROPS:
Instead of closing up shop after clearing out all the summer plants, plant something that can grow and keep your garden alive. Kale, collards, leafy greens, garlic, rhubarb, shallots and carrots are a few great things that you can start late in late summer and harvest in the fall. Your garden can also work as a great ‘root cellar’ of sorts, to store things like carrots, potatoes, onions and cabbage. Just burry in a few inches of soil and place a marker over the spot so it can be easily found once winter sets in.
Something else to consider are cover crops! I have never done a cover crop but I really want to try one this year. I love that they keep your soil healthy and in place.
Why cover crops?
“Cover crops help to retain the soil, lessen erosion, and decrease the impact of precipitation on the garden by slowing the runoff of water. They also reduce mineral leaching and compaction, and suppress perennial and winter annual weed growth. The top growth adds organic matter when it is tilled into the garden soil. The cover crop’s root system also provides organic matter and opens passageways that help improve air and water movement in the soil.” -Cornell University
Great cover crop options: