Winterizing your garden is a necessary task, especially if you live in a region that has cold days ahead! Tackling this chore is like cleaning out the school locker at the end of the year. You’re happy it’s over, nostalgic about the past months, glad for a break, yet can’t wait for the next year! It’s a rite of passage that every gardener must face, like it or not.
Make sure that everything edible or salvageable has been removed from your garden. If you are sick of picking tomatoes and are out of time, offer the rest to a friend or neighbor. Tell them to clean out what they want, so you can get to tucking the garden to bed for a long winters rest. They will enjoy getting fresh vegetables and you will have saved yourself some work.
Let’s hope it’s not a big garden, because the best way to prepare it for winter is to pull everything up by hand. Just go row by row and pull the plants up and toss them into a yard cart or wagon. Hey, you pulled weeds all summer didn’t you? At least now you don’t have to be so careful about what you are grabbing. Just yank it all up.
If you compost, this stuff is great to save and will give you a good start on feeding next years garden. If you are not a composter, then you will have to figure out how to dispose of the debris from your garden. Some people burn it, but this is really a waste and is bad for the environment. It may also be against your city ordinance. Be sure to dispose of your garden debris responsibly.
Do not put anything into your compost pile that you suspect might be diseased or bug infested. You’ll just give it all a cozy place to live and thrive until next year. Then you will contaminate your new garden. The best advice here is that when in doubt, throw it out!
Now that the biggest mess is gone, you need to get out the yard rake. Rake the entire garden to get even the smallest bits of weeds or leaves left behind. The ground needs to get plenty of sunlight and air, if it is to be healthy enough to support another garden in the spring.
The final step in winterizing your garden is to clean and examine all of your gardening tools. Rinse them all off with a hose to remove any dirt that has caked on them. Leaving the dirt will cause your tools to rust over the winter months. Your job will be harder next year, so yes, dealing with the tools is all part of winterizing your garden.
Make sure your tools are all dry before you store them for the winter. I’ve even heard some gardeners say that they apply a coat of vegetable oil to their rakes and spades before storing them. I have never attempted this, so you can try it at your own risk! I just figured it be too messy to deal with by next year.
Now all you need to do is buy you some good gardening books to read through the winter months. If you are really into planning ahead, you should check out my article about “Make a Garden Planner Guide.” It will help you wile away the winter months and you’ll be all ready to start your garden next spring. Take heart, spring will be back soon!