The Q&A Archives: Preparing the Vegetable Garden For Winter

Question: Although it's not even autumn yet, we're already thinking about how might we prepare this garden for the winter, so it'll be easier to get going next spring.

Answer: Don't put your garden to bed just yet! Did you know you can still grow some cool-weather crops in fall, just as you did in spring? Lettuce is a favorite to grow again as fall approaches.

When you are finally finished in the garden, clean up all the "leftovers" such as tomato vines, cornstalks, or finished bean plants. Till them into the soil, or remove them to your compost pile. (Don't have a compost pile? Start one! It's the very best thing you can do to improve your garden's soil.) Remove any weeds as well, so they don't get a jump on you next spring. Once the garden is pretty clean, add a layer of leaves or compost which you can just layer on top or till in. This garden clean-up in fall should help you get an early jump on the garden in spring. Some gardeners plant a winter cover crop of rye or other hardy grain to protect the soil through the winter, or you can simply layer mulch over the soil. When spring rolls round, till this in after the soil drains well, and wait a couple of weeks for the organic matter to decay before planting your vegetables.

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