Oct 302012
 

by Avis Licht

Whether you plant edible crops for the winter or not, there are a few things you can do to keep your garden healthy and protected for the winter.

Clean up under your fruit trees and mulch with compost

 

 

1. Clean out the old beds and if you have room, be sure to compost your old foliage.  There are a lot of nutrients in those plants that  came out of your ground and you can put those nutrients back into the soil. Composting is an important part of garden health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fava beans make a wonderful winter cover crop

 

 

2. Plant cover crops to protect the soil from erosion and add nutrients as well as humus to the soil.  Fava beans and bell beans can be sown even in cold, wet weather.

 

 

 

3. Sheet mulch to cover large areas to improve the soil, get rid of weeds and prepare for future planting without having to dig the soil.  Sound too good to be true? Well it really works. Here’s an article about sheet mulching in my own back yard.

 

 

 

Mulching around plants

 

4. Mulch the soil around plants. This is one of the most important things you can do in the winter to protect the soil from erosion, hold moisture, protect roots from extreme weather and add nutrient. There are many types of mulch. Leaves, straw, wood chips, compost, and manure are some of the most common and easiest to use. As with everything else in the garden, there’s always lots to learn.  Different mulches  work better in different conditions. Check out my article on best mulching practices.

 

Frost on fallen leaves

Oct 032011
 
Winter crops, edible landscaping, lettuce

Lettuce planted for winter harvest (click to enlarge)

Whether you live on the East Coast , the West Coast or in between it’s time to prepare for the winter.  As the days get shorter and the nights longer, everyone needs to put their gardens to sleep.  This means different things in different parts of the country.

In the West Coast,  Southwest and South where the frosts come later (or never) you can put in vegetables now for the winter.  This week I planted lettuce, broccoli, kale, chard, carrots, beets, peas and fava beans. We get below freezing weather in the winter, but if the plants are well established by November, they can thrive just fine over the winter.

Now is the time to clean up fallen fruit, old leaves, clear out the dead plants in the vegetable garden and put everything on the compost.

compost, weeds, winter preparation, edible landscape

These weeds are headed for the compost pile.

Mulch your garden. You will protect the soil from compaction and erosion due to heavy rains,  it will keep roots of perennials from freezing and create humus as it breaks down.

In areas that you can’t grow winter vegetables, you can still  put in cover crops. Planting cover crops in the fall to cover garden beds over the winter is excellent practice—beds under a cover are protected from erosive effects of winter weather. In addition, even if we do not see any obvious growth during the dormant period, root growth continues except when the ground is frozen.

Dried flowers. winter garden, edible landscaping

Drying Zinnia flowers for wreaths

In cold climates you can plant oat, vetch, peas, rye and barley.  If they are frost killed, they still will be useful as mulch to cover the ground.

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