It was another wonderful year full of flowers and crops. As the temperature begins to drop, its time to finish harvesting and close your garden for the year. Closing a garden is more about cleaning up and covering up than anything else. Yes it’s true that when you close a garden, you close it so that it’s easy to start back up, but you also need to close it to make sure your plants are not outright killed by frost during its dormancy. This is also a good time to clean up shop and make repairs to your garden box as well as build a cold frame to help box in raised beds. The bottom line is you can’t postpone the inevitable, which is winter. Its coming and when it gets here it will spare no garden. Therefore make short to-do list to close your garden properly this year. Covering your vegetables with old sheets or bedspreads on cold nights will only take your garden so far because the declining light and chilly daytime temperatures will naturally bring plant growth to a halt. To keep your plants healthy through the winter you must close your garden correctly.
Even though the activity above the soil has stopped, there’s a lot going on underneath the surface. All of your newly transplanted shrubs, divisions of perennials, and bulbs are still growing roots thriving on the nutrients and moisture within the soil. In addition earthworms and a variety of microorganisms are processing organic materials. If you added mulch earlier in the spring, then most of it has composed during the summer months. One of your main priorities on your to do list when closing your garden this year is to replace the mulch with a nice thick layer to protects plants and more importantly, your soil. The idea is to keep the temperature level as even as possible. Be sure to clean up debris, scout for insects, and remove all weeds to make for a fresh start in the spring. If you live an area that is a bit warmer and doesn’t receive as much frost, you should leave new plants up until new growth starts and then remove the old ones. Once the garden itself is in tip top shape
and ready for spring, it’s time to also take care of your tools and equipment. Empty, clean, disinfect, and bring in all containers. This also means getting all the water out of your water hose. A quick easy way to clean your utensils and containers is to spray them with bleach cleaner. Store this equipment in a dry, safe place so that all you have to do is kick off the dust next spring.
The to-do list for closing your garden is not as long as you will think. First you clean it, second you prepare it, and third you clean your equipment. The fall is the perfect time to tackle this list while the summer days are cooler and shorter. Closing your garden is a time to not only look back on what you accomplished, but also a chance to look at what you can do next year.