When To Mulch - Knowledgebase Question

Cold Spring, NY
Avatar for KEEBULLIT
Question by KEEBULLIT
October 16, 1999
I am a novice gardener who had a very fine harvest for my first summer of gardening. I had many tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers and eggplant despite the drought we had in the Hudson Valley. Now that autumn is here I am not exactly sure what I should be doing. Obviously I need to remove the annual plants, but I'm not sure what protective measures I should be taking to ready my raised garden beds for the winter. (I had to add a fair amount of manure, peat and topsoil to the beds this spring when I planted because the soil had been terribly overworked and was neglected by the previous tenant). Do you only mulch during the growing season? Or should I be mulching the empty beds after our first hard frost? Thank you!

Answer from NGA
October 16, 1999
Fall is a great time to add more organic matter to replenish the soil, as well as additional soil amendments as indicated by the results of soil tests. If the soil is very heavy you might elect to leave it exposed to the weathering provided by the freezing and thawing cycles, or you might prefer to cover it with mulch to protect it from erosion. Another option is to grow a cover crop such as annual rye which would be turned under in the spring. As with so many aspects of gardening, it's up to you and whatever suits your schedule and methods.

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