Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Winterizing your Garden, The 5 P's: Prior Preparation Produces Better Plants and Produce

Winterizing your Garden
Remember the 5 P’s: "Prior Preparation Produces Better Plants and Produce"


The first thing is to clear out the past year’s waste – especially after all the rot, fungus and blight problems we have had this year – These MUST GO ( and not even into the compost – they are to be put in the trash), as you do NOT want to infect next year’s growth. Clear around perennials and clear under trees. Plants and weeds without disease go into the compost.


Secondly dig in any or all of the following amendments (mixed together):

Well rotted manure – preferably horse, chicken or cow and/ or Leaves and Compost from your hot compost bin/pile

CHECK pH (you can get a test from the co-op or skip this step):

Add Sulphur or Lime – if you find your pH is too low or too high ( acid or alkaline )

NOTE: If you are not putting in a green cover crop (see below) until the spring or have left it a bit too late to plant now (start in early Fall), leave enough of the above amendments to layer on top of the bed especially if not completely rotted yet. Frost and snow break down the last few strands, leaves etc., so that it is ready for the next spring.


Layering on top is important as it will stop any weeds from growing, will help cut down the ultimate deep freezing of the soil and will create worm space. Worms are vitally important.

Suggested layers :

Direct onto the ground – newspaper in strips- try to use non-shiny, non -coloured paper as far as possible – worms can be affected by the chemicals in highly coloured papers. Make sure that all the soil is covered.

Next layer –leaves, compost and manure – I tend to mix the whole lot up (if and when I have it) as you are going to have to mix it all when you dig it in, in the spring. If you can lay your hands on enough, make it at least 6 inches deep, and make sure you cover the paper completely.

Finally a layer of wetted leaves( so they don’t blow away) or even a layer of horticultural fleece.


If you went the green cover crop route, and you want to dig it in now, dig it in to a depth of 5-6 inches deep and then layer on top of it. If you want to leave it over winter and there are few fall planted green manures that will last the blast of 25 below, then just cover it over with something like straw. Don’t use hay – there are too many weeds and seeds in it , especially this year.

Green Cover crops: Winter wheat or rye, Buckwheat - A quickly maturing plant, buckwheat bushes out fast and produces a prodigious amount of biomass, creating a ground canopy that chokes out weeds (which rob other crops of nutrition).

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