As the days cool and winter draws near, I like to put my garden to rest. Of course, we grow some kale here and there and usually our garlic is planted in October, but I use December/January/February to really take a step back from gardening. As much as I love gardening, it’s nice to have a respite from it, though I typically use that time daydreaming and planning the next garden.
We start the process of putting our garden to rest by removing any diseased or mildewed plants. We take extra precautions by burning any diseased material.
We’ll pull up any dead plant material (like tomatoes or cucumber vines) after the first killing frost but a lot of our flowers, we’ll leave up until spring instead of pulling them or deadheading them. Just to provide a little extra protection during the cooler days for our insect friends and some extra food for the wild birds.
Then we like to hoe the garden very well, just to let some air circulate. We’ll then cover the garden with a layer of manure/dirt/compost/bedding from our chickens. Our chickens get all of our scraps and twice a year (spring and fall), we clean out the inside of the coop and shovel up everything that is in their run and place it in the garden.
Our final step is covering the garden with a layer of straw. This helps to cut down on the weeds in the garden, adds an extra bit of organic matter, and just helps everything break down better.
I know a lot of people choose to plant a cover crop during the fall/winter, but for us, we have decided not to at this point. It may be something we explore next year, but for now, we are staying with our plan.
I’d love to hear from you – how do you put your garden to rest?