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The days are growing shorter and there is a certain crispness to the air. Fall is right around the corner and the summer growing cycle in your garden is winding down to a close. It’s time to prepare the garden for the long, cold days of winter. Hopefully, it has been a bountiful season and you can look ahead to a vibrant spring.

Fall Garden Clean Up

The first step towards preparing the garden for winter is simple cleanup You’ll want to remove all old and dead plant material that might harbor diseases, funguses, and pests throughout the winter. Sometimes, unwanted insects use the decaying plant debris to lay their eggs which will emerge in the spring to feed on the young, tender shoots of your garden. You’ll want to remove all spent plants or work them deep into the soil. Digging and burying the old plants in the dirt helps create rich organic soil for the following season. 

Remove Invasive Weeds 

Invasive weeds take hold during the summer months and they will linger through the cold months of winter to again take hold. Even if you pull the weeds and throw them into the compost heap, they can still hang on without dying. Ideally, you’ll want to remove all the weeds and dispose of them in garbage bags or burn them in a fire pit to prevent them from sprouting again when the weather warms up. 

Soil Preparation

Autumn is the ideal time to add soil amendments to the soil such as compost, manure, kelp, rock phosphate, bone meal, or other nutrients. During the winter, they will start to break down and enrich the soil, so it becomes biologically active. Fall tilling also improves drainage substantially. After adding the amendments, cover the soil with plastic sheeting to keep the winter rains and snow from washing away the amendments. In the spring, you can remove the sheeting and work the soil with a hoe in preparation for spring planting. 

Consider Planting Cover Crops

In mild areas of the country, you might want to sow cover crops such as clover, rye, or vetch to further enrich the soil and prevent soil erosion. Legumes such as field peas and clover increase the nitrogen in the soil which is ideal for spring planting. Plant cover crops about one month before the first hard frost are expected. 

Trim Back Perennials

Trim back perennial plants. However, be sure to research before pruning because some types should never be cut back in the fall such as raspberry canes which continue to nourish the root system even during the harshest winter months. Blueberries also fair better when pruned in the spring. Blackberries are ideal for fall pruning, as are sage, rosemary, and thyme. You can also cut back rhubarb and asparagus. 

Plant Bulbs for the Spring

In the fall, it is time to plant spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils. You can also lift and divide existing bulbs before the ground freezes. 

Plant Enzymes

Humboldts Plant Enzymes are a great way to rejuvenate the soil. They will help to effectively break down the old roots and create more nutrients for spring planting. Start rejuvenating your soil now as you plan for next year’s spring garden.

Please contact Humboldts if you have any questions. 


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