Prepare Your Garden for Next Year in 4 Easy Steps
As the summer ends and we head into fall, you’re likely thinking more about harvesting those last few tomatoes, beans and carrots than what you’ll plant next year. But by planning ahead you can save yourself time and money, and grow a great garden filled with wonderful produce more easily next year. Follow these four easy steps as you put your garden to bed this year to ensure it will awaken again in the spring, ready to grow.
Before you can put your garden to bed, you need to harvest the current produce out of it. Harvest everything your garden has left to give. Potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables will keep if you store them in a cool, dark place. Some vegetables take well to drying, like beans and kale. You may want to can or pickle cucumbers, beans and beets. Most other vegetables can be frozen.
If you have perennial plants or bulbs that will grow back next year, make sure to mark them. You don’t want to wreck them as you complete the next steps. No matter what you’re harvesting from your garden, store it properly so you can enjoy it at a later date.
Give back to the Earth
Once you’ve harvested all that your garden can give, leave the plants, stems and roots in the garden. Take your garden tiller and pass over the garden two to three times until the thickest stems are mostly broken up. Make sure to remove any fencing or other obstructions from your garden before you do this.
By giving back these nutrients to the soil you’ll save on the cost of new soil and fertilizer. Allow the broken vegetable matter to rot into the ground for several days. If you don’t have a tiller you can compost this vegetable matter and spread it around the garden in the next step.
Find a good source of nutrient rich soil for your garden. If there’s a farm nearby, you may be able to get horse or cow manure. In a pinch, the family dog can even provide manure. Check your local garbage dump to see if they can tell you where you might get free or reduced price soil. If all else fails, you can simply buy nutrient rich soil at the store. In the future, start your own compost bin to create wonderful dirt for your garden.
Before the ground freezes, sprinkle a few inches of soil over your entire garden and till it in. These steps are important to ensure that your garden has enough nutrients to grow next year’s crop.
Now that your garden is suitably nutrient rich, you can begin planning next year’s garden. Draw a map of your garden and plan which seeds you want to plant. Make note of any specifics about your particular garden – which parts get shade, which parts flood, which parts are dry, as well as which plants grow well together. For example, you might plant corn with your vining beans so you don’t have to lay stakes.
With your garden prepped and planned for spring, you can sit back and relax knowing your hard work will pay off. It only takes a little bit of effort to ensure your garden will be producing wonderful produce and beautiful flowers next year.