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End of Season | Winterizing Your Vegetable Garden
Prepping for the end of gardening season is my least favorite part of being a gardener. It is interesting to see how your plants go from seed to a complete vegetable; from colorful vibrance to brown; from full leaves to those that wither; and then eventually, it dies. As painful as it may be, it is the cycle of life in a lot of ways. But cleaning up your garden is a necessary component of prepping for the next gardening season.
A few years ago, I didn’t clean up my garden space and the start to my gardening season was an uphill battle. You simply cannot replant your garden, and you haven’t cleaned out your garden beds. I know…I know…it’s a LOT, but it’s a part of the process of being a gardener. Everything has a plant, growth, and resting phase. And now it’s time for the ground to rest. The better you prepare your garden to rest, the better the growing season will be next year.
Below I list some tips on cleaning up your garden:
- Pull up garden accessories: I usually have lights and stakes and other “pretty” garden accessories. I pull all of them up and safely store them until the following season.
- Pull up the vegetables, even if it’s still producing: Even if your vegetables are still growing- pull them up. A lot of times, vegetables will have a late growth phase. Some items are still producing vegetables because the weather system confuses them. Still, the latter vegetables are not as “good” as those during the main growth phase.
- Dump all of the pots completely. I keep a lot of my vegetables in the pots. The reason why I dump the pots entirely is that nothing saves through the cold season. On top of that, if there was any disease, you do not want it to affect your next season’s crop.
- Turn the soil over and pull the weeds. The idea of turning over the earth is pulling up the old weeds and breaking up the ground. When you do not do this, the soil becomes compacted, which will clog the soil affecting how well the water will filter.
- Perennial flowers/vegetables: I either cut them back or leave them alone. Thankfully many of my perennial flowers die back on their own. You see them literally begin to whiter back on their own and go back to the earth. When they’re ready to start growing again, they’ll start coming back on their own. I covered them too. The hosta was still growing but once it goes back down I’ll cover that corner too.
- Empty your rain barrels and pull all of the water hoses and store them. If you leave your rain barrel full, the water will freeze in the winter and can change the shape of your rain barrel (and ruin it). Same for the water hoses. I have unfortunately wasted a few water hoses that way.
- Secure your compost bin: Some people say do not do this, but I just can’t leave composting matter untouched through the season. It needs to be contained. If you leave it open, some hungry animals may find it interesting during the winter. You can add leaves to your bin and allow them to compost. Make sure there is some ventilation so the composting process can continue.
- Cover your garden area: This is optional but I do choose to do this in my zone. It literally freezes in Chicago and I like to protect my garden from the harsh elements. While also allowing some room for ventilation. I use this plant cover.
- Review your gardening season: This is more of a mental assessment for me but you can get a notebook and write down some lessons learned, what grew well (or did not) every year I add some vegetables to my garden and take some away.
What were some of your lessons learned this gardening season?
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