After harvesting your crops, the next step is to clean up your garden and get it ready for the off season. If you do this now, your soil will be in the best condition possible in the spring, making it that much easier to plant everything. It might be tempting to sit back and enjoy the -literal – fruits of your labors after spending months working on your garden, but the work isn’t quite over yet. You’ll need to:
Take Care of Any Remaining Crops
It’s possible that some crops are still in the ground, even though they aren’t producing anymore. You’ll need to gently remove them from the ground and compost them, if you have a compost bin. If not, this is a good time to set one up! If you have any remaining herb plants, cut them down as far as possible and save the tops sections by dehydrating them and placing them in a jar. Store the jar in a cool, dry place, and you’ll be able to use them throughout the winter. However, if you planted your herbs in a series of small pots, just place them in a warm, well-lit place inside and they will continue to grow.
Once you’ve removed any remnants of your plants from the ground, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Prepare Your Soil for the Winter
If you haven’t already drawn out a diagram of where you planted everything this past season, now is the time to do it, since you’ll need to keep rotating your crops to keep your soil’s nutrients in good condition. Once you’ve done that (if you hadn’t already), go ahead and start removing any leftover seasonal plants from the ground. If you have some, like berry bushes, that will grow back next year, simply cut them back and compost what you’ve cut off.
As you’re removing your corn stalks and other things from the ground, keep an eye out for any signs of disease. Any diseased plants can’t go in a compost bin, and should be burned or thrown away. Otherwise, those fungi or viruses can infect the soil produced by your compost bin, and go on to effect anything that you plant in it.
Store Your Tools Properly
Of course, once you’re done with your garden, the next step is to store your tools properly for next year. Some, like shovels, should be hung on pegs in a garage or shed. Before you do this, you’ll need to clean them well by shaking off any debris and hosing them down. Dry them well with a soft towel before wiping them a solution made of 10% bleach and 90% water. This will kill any microorganisms living on them. Next, empty out and roll up your hose and make sure that none of your watering cans (if you have any) have water in them. Turn them upside down for a few days to ensure that they are fully emptied. You don’t want any standing pools of water in your shed or garage. Lastly, do any required maintenance on your power tiller or lawn mower.
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Pic by forestfolks