6 Tips For Preparing Your Garden For Winter

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Winter is a time of reflection and rumination. This is the time of year, for most, to begin their new Spring plan and ideas may strike at any time. How are you going to prepare your garden for the winter and how will you set it up for the most success next season? If your climate doesn’t exactly have a winter then this article may be of no help to you currently, but knowing the motif of winter and the correct resources to refine will make all the different in your methods. Do not let the Winter be an impasse. This is your time to recluse a little, enjoy your preserved bounties and think. For most Winter may bring the blues, deep though, and often can lead to stagnation. Utilizing these tips and tricks, along with the knowledge of what bounties the Winter season will bring, your garden will thank you with even greater harvests next year.

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Record Keeping

After you have finished storing your storage crops, and preserving your bounty cozy up with your tea and journal and keep your records up to date. This is a given, but now with more time on your hands, how about cleaning up the journal and organizing the notebooks? In today’s context the modern farmer should be digitizing their diaries and keeping various spreadsheets and records of important astrological events and weather trends. It will help next year, as weather becomes more unpredictable with Climate Change. Without a doubt, record keeping is relevant enough to make the number 1 tip on this list.

Cleaning up the Garden

Leaving dead things to rot in your soil is a quick way to spread disease and potentially harmful illness to the consumer. Do your soil a favor and remove anything dead, compost it quickly and amend your soil with a layer of finished compost and some mulch. We won’t to leave no soil bare, so if you can cover crop your beds with something like Winter Rye or Hairy Vetch, you can chop it down for compost when the season begins and have a clean, fertile planting bed.

 

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Gathering Debris and Leaves

As most would think, if you are going to do something don’t do it for free. Gathering down tree limbs from winter storms and fall winds can provide to be very beneficial to your garden. Keeping the Ashes from any clean burnt wood. If you don’t like to logs or timber you are faced with removing, chop it up and burn it. Using Wood Ash in your vegetable garden might not sound like a good idea but Wood Ash contains nutrients such as Potassium and Potash. Wood Ash is useful for amending the pH of your soil, much like Lime. Liming Agents are typically necessary in large scale farming.

Tossing Wood Ash into your compost pile will increase the fertility of it, but because of its ability to increase pH be very careful and apply only at the recommended rate. If you are composting acidic pine needles or other acidic matter, wood ash can be your best friend. Similar idea goes for leaves, use them in your compost pile as a natural way to build and cover up your compost, keeping it as warm as possible.

Yes, all of those people dragging away tree limbs and throwing leaves away in plastic bags are basically throwing away good garden fertilizer. Yes I know, I find it frustrating too but here we are.

Ask your neighbors if they have any down logs you can utilize on your farm, whether you make H├╝gelkultur beds with them, process them for boards, or burn them for ashes. Whatever your needs are, winter will supply you with plenty of composting materials.

 

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Soil Testing and Nutrient Retention

Check your soil pH and nutrient content before deciding on the layout of your garden next season.

Remember to practice crop rotation and to fertilize with something like chicken or turkey manure in between plantings so this part of your Winter will be simple.

If you are insufficient in any particular nutrient, find an organic way to return that nutrient to the soil over time. Don’t go for the fast fixes with chemical fertilizers as they cause irreparable harm to the environment and everything living on it. For example, a layer of finished compost, sprinkled with composted chicken fertilizer and leaf mulch should have your beds performing well. Chicken Manure has the absolute highest content of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium of all the animal manures. Poultry Manure contains each of the 13 nutrients that are used by plants. These nutrients are Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Sulfur, Copper, Zinc, Chlorine, Boron, Iron, and Molybdenum. Strike a deal with a local chicken farmer or purchase manure by the bag. Go light, as composted manure alone may burn the plants. Since it’s winter, be sure to mix it with a layer of finished compost and covered by leaf mulch or a landscape tarp such as a Silage Tarp.

 

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Taking Care of Animals and Infrastructure

With that said, it is time to turn your attention to any of the auxiliary inputs your farm or garden may have. Animals provide many benefit other than just consumption. From chicken tractoring, invasive pest management, and general cultivation and fertility aids, I have seen chickens serve numerous purposes that don’t involve being eaten so they are a high-priority if you have them. I do not have any animals but I will say, this is a great time to check your fences and make sure there aren’t any items left out to be damaged by the cold weather.

Plan your Garden

 

Spend a lot of timing focusing on what you want to grow next season. What have you grown well before in the past and is that working for you and your farm? Is there a crop not worth your time anymore?

 

Here are a few other things to consider when planning your garden now that you are prepared for the winter.

 

Is the biodiversity on my garden satisfactory?

Is there a particular pest I had a problem with last year, during a certain week?

Is there room for utilizing the edges of your garden for pollinator friendly flowers and herbs to help increase garden fertility?

 

Planning and being effective over the winter months is a way to ease the beginning of the following season. The more thought you put into this step, the more likely you will be to solve any problems that may arise. Winter preparation is a necessary if you want to come out swinging in early spring.

 


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