Putting the Garden to Rest

Putting the Garden to Rest

Putting the garden to rest and preparing for spring is very important as it will determine the following year results. It’s when the nighttime temperatures start dropping into the 30°’s F and during the day they are staying in the 50°’s F to low 60°’s F.

Work to be done in the fall

  • Take stock where the various plantings are in the garden.  Map out a crop rotation as you create next year’s garden plan.
  • The warm season crops like tomatoes, peppers, squashes and beans are over. Harvest and wrapped in newspaper the green tomatoes. Store in a cold box to ripen.
  • Diseased plants or fruits should be disposed and not left in the ground.
  • Any strawberry plants, asparagus, or the like, apply 4” of mulch (like straw or hay or compost) around the plants, to protect them and avoid heaving during the winter months. It is best to apply mulch after the first freeze to avoid mice and voles from overwintering in the garden.
  • If you planted a cover crop earlier, then pull the tomato and other vegetable plants carefully so as to not disturb the soil and the cover crop.
  • Weed the garden beds thoroughly to minimize further spread of the weeds into next year. It’s really important to not let weeds go to seed, as this can create a whole infestation and harbor insects, slugs and the like into the following season.
  • If you have any fruit trees or berry bushes, install some deer netting. This will prevent deer from eating the buds or using the tree trunks to sharpen their antlers.
  • For summer-bearing raspberries, prune and leave about 6 canes. For fall-bearing raspberries, prune heavily right to the ground. They will send new canes next season.
  • You can plant blackberries or transplant and divide them now. Mound the soil around the base and mulch after the soil freezes.
  • Plant material should be put in the compost pile. If they are diseased, discard it far from garden or burn it.
Compost pile

Starting a compost pile

If you already have a compost pile, turn it, if you haven’t done so already. Add some fresh green material along with the leaves so that it generates heat and kill any overwintering bugs and weed seeds. The turning of the compost will prevent any animals from overwintering in the pile. Turn the pile every few weeks until the ground freezes. If a pile is allowed to cool off it will not kill diseases or weeds.  See video on turning a compost pile.

  • Start your compost utilizing the leaves and the fresh garden material.
  • If you choose not to use the leaves in a compost, you can chop them with a lawnmower and utilize as mulch in the garden.
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