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How do you prep your garden for winter? — The Grow Network Community
Flowers are the music of the ground from earth's lips spoken without sound.

- Edwin Curran

How do you prep your garden for winter?

merlin44merlin44 Posts: 425 ✭✭✭✭

This time of year, I clear the goat barns completely and mulch the garden areas. The hay/goat manure almost completely break down over the winter and the ground is ready to plant come spring. I am curious about cover crops, anyone use them?


  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @merlin44 I have used cover crops at various times since 2006. When I do use them I would typically add in the late Summer/early Fall and then cut down in the Spring to use as a living mulch. Sometimes I would allow some to stay on the borders so as to let it go to seed to attract beneficial insects among other things.

    The more diversity that you use with your cover crops the better the outcome as you can increase the amount and type of nutrients that get added back to the soil. You can also rotate your cover crops from season to season, year to year, and intercrop during the year with your cash crop (if selling your produce).

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I planted a cover crop of 'Takane Red Buckwheat' and withing 2 days....I'm serious I couldn't believe how fast it came up. And I planted it 2 seeds each spot so I could 'graze' as a method for thining. Wow they are so good.

    I planted them because they are soooooo beautiful so I hope they bloom before it gets too cold here as I did plant late..last Thursday.

    Also, I want to see how it might enrich the soil as I am planting carrots there as soon as the buckwheat blooms and I break it up and turn it under.

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Another way I am prepping my garden for winter is to plant early sprouting brocolli for early spring feasting, as well as other plants that are cold tolerant so I can harvest some throughout the winter.

    And have already planted some Galliee Spinach that came up fast too. They are all over the bed about 2 inches high now and they were planted last Thursday as well.

    I have 2 'cattle mineral tubs' that are filled with kitchen scraps in layers per composting that are already breaking down well in the heat. I plan to add to beds as the maters are finished in hopes I won't have to add much from the way of 'bought and bagged' stuff.

  • drpclarkedrpclarke Posts: 53 ✭✭✭

    Last year, I planted lettuce that I ate all fall, winter, and spring and it was the best tasting lettuce that I have ever had. I also planted two cover crops which were Austrian Peas and Daikon radishes. I was able to eat the radish leaves and then the radishes which are huge and can be used in place of potatoes (less carbs) as long as they are cooked long enough.

  • ines871ines871 zn8APosts: 1,290 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2019

    All Good to know. -

    But cooking radishes? We eat them raw in my (4 in cold, & 10 in warm weather) Rainbow salads.

    re "winter-prep": When I manage... to get plants Mulched, enough, + maybe plants some more Spring Flower-bulbs, that on my schedule is a huge success. - And "cover crops"? - everything is already covered, one way or another, lol

  • bejer19bejer19 IllinoisPosts: 59 ✭✭✭

    I've roasted all types of radishes (although never daikon!) and they all taste pretty good. Pulls the bite out of them and they have a good texture.

    At this point all of my gardens are in raised beds so I don't do any cover cropping at all. I cut down and either bury or toss (if diseased) all the spent plants, add a light layer of compost, and mulch where I have perennials. I also plant garlic and any other bulbs I want in late October/early November depending on weather trends.

    I've not had much luck growing things too late in the year, but am very interested in adding some season extension so I can have spinach for a bit longer this year. I've had minimal success with that in the past.

  • probinson50probinson50 Posts: 49 ✭✭✭

    I change up from year to year. This fall I am going to use a clover cover crop. I also planted comfrey in another bed that I will use for chop and drop.

  • Leslie CarlLeslie Carl Posts: 255 ✭✭✭✭

    I too am planning to use clover, but this is my first time using a cover crop so regretfully I don't have any experiences to tell.

  • kbmbillups1kbmbillups1 Posts: 574 ✭✭✭✭

    I cannot wait for it to cool off here in Georgia so I can plant my winter garden. Last year I grew the best greens all winter long. I'm excited about planting kale and collards again. I'm going to try cauliflower this time too. I still had to knock the eggs off of my lowest leaves all winter long but they were so much more manageable. I can't wait for cooler weather!

  • ines871ines871 zn8APosts: 1,290 ✭✭✭✭✭

    okay all you Super (year-round 🤗) gardeners:

    Except for Salad greens, & some Cruciferous veggies (& not every year either), I could feel really guilty Not participating in year-round gardening at this point. - But I choose not to feel 'guilt'. Because I have soooooooo many projects demanding my daily Attention as it is, that were I to add yet more, I would Never have a prayer to "Stop overwhelm". - Even as I'm organized, & know how to 'eat an elephant bite by bite', I am far too overwhelmed.

    How many here can relate?

  • merlin44merlin44 Posts: 425 ✭✭✭✭

    @rainbow Me! Me! I can relate. I planted onions and will have my garlic in before the new moon, all else in the garden will be at rest till Spring's arrival. No guilt, just step by step or should I say nail by nail as I'm completing construction of a house (quite possibly the dumbest idea I ever had as I have NO building experience LOL).

  • ines871ines871 zn8APosts: 1,290 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2019

    wow - really? - May I ask the size (length x width) of your house? - Good for you!

    As a family we learned How to build a LOGhome, twenty years ago as part of our Unschooling curriculum. But life threw us yet another curve, so not unless & until we get More rural are we ever going to make this another reality. How long have you been working on this project, - or better yet, how close to having it livable are you, may I ask ? Enjoy a Safe & Happy week @merlin44

  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 760 admin

    My garden is placed directly under the barn doors on my elevated chicken coop, and I use the built-up litter method in my coop, so when I do my annual coop cleaning, I just push all the semi-composted shavings into my garden, spread them around, and then let them rot under the snow until it's time to plant in the late spring. (We are in zone 6a.)

  • merlin44merlin44 Posts: 425 ✭✭✭✭

    @rainbow The house is 30x12. My husband began the building and was about halfway completed when he passed over unexpectedly almost three years ago. I had no experience with construction but I did pay attention to how he did things and I do learn quickly (a blessing). He had most of the exterior done, a good bit of the interior and the electrical done. I've installed the wood stove, completed and painted the exterior. Currently I'm near completion on the interior stairs to the sleeping loft and these next months will be installing the plumbing with a greywater system, putting in the sinks and a shower, finishing miscellaneous trim and taking care of whatever else arises. I moved in shortly after his passing, as the borrowed RV we were living in during construction had to be returned. Almost 64 years old now, its not the easiest (or most sane) thing I've ever done but I think has helped me find strength after the loss of the life I'd known for 24 years. (And at times, I feel the smile of my husband and know he's saying 'you got it, girl'.)

    @Merin Porter oh how I wish we had planned that well when we placed the garden and built the barn. My late husband, being the athletic type and thrived on physical work, thought nothing of hauling wheelbarrow loads up the slight hill from the barn to the garden. Me-I just keep reminding myself of the benefits of physical labor for older folk and pray LOL.

  • ines871ines871 zn8APosts: 1,290 ✭✭✭✭✭

    oh, @Jimerson - is there any way, you can install a TEN times UP feature in our choices? - Really, am asking because have you read what @merlin44 just shared... How many 64 year young women do you know, that are building a big house, by herself no less. - Oh, merlin be very Proud of yourself. Honestly...

  • ines871ines871 zn8APosts: 1,290 ✭✭✭✭✭

    okay, back on track here, (I always go off the Beaten path, lol) - @merlin44 tho your thread is about "Winter-prepping", would it be okay with you if I mention yet another of Marjorie's 5 minute videos: "The Easiest Way to Prepare a Garden Bed have done this "black-plastic" method on about half our planting areas; except the Compost DEPTH I kept to about 2-4 inches only, & when you've seen my Cruciferous, & Cucumber, & Herb, & Squash, & Strawberries, & Tomato, etc... photos here, you know that is all the soil depth needed to produce winners 🤩... Honest engine.

  • illbtruillbtru Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

    Buckwheat is great from mid spring to late summer. Austrian winter peas work well from late fall to early spring.

    When you plant buckwheat heavy, the foliage cover will smother even the worst weeds. The foliage is soft and breaks down incredibly fast. You need to cut down the buckwheat when the plants flower. I highly recommend this wonderful cover crop to prepare the garden in advance of winter.

    The winter peas are very hardy and will last into the spring when the winter is more mild. Plus, the peas fixate nitrogen which helps with fertility.

    Preparation needs to be completed by no later than Thanksgiving here in the Missouri Ozarks. The soil biosphere needs the nutrition for good bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi to break down carbon and bring the soil into balance.

    Many make the mistake of applying organic matter in the spring.The soil works on breaking down the carbon, using precious nitrogen. The plants will be chlorotic (yellowed) and grow slowly until the soil returns to balance. Plus you will notice a greater instance of blossom end rot in tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucurbit crops.

    Conclusion - feed your soil in early winter, enjoy healthy crops in spring, summer and fall!!!

  • Hello Friends,

    Yes, it is time to prepare beds for next spring! I am slowly pulling out plants that are done producing, and adding cover crops and compost. The way I do it is a process, it doesn't happen in a day or a weekend. My annual garden has perennials sprinkled in, so each bed has unique needs.

    So yes, get beds ready. Also, it's time to plant hardy crops to overwinter so they will come up early in the spring. I have used Elliot Coleman's book, "Four Season Harvest" for many years and it extends our growing season. It's time to plant hardy greens for EARLY spring harvest. I do this in a high tunnel and also in low tunnels in the main garden. Such an exciting time!

  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 760 admin

    I super admire people who can motivate themselves to get up and consistently do things that are going to require a lot of time and energy and, let's be honest, muscle soreness. :D I have gotten to know myself well enough over the years to know that, as busy as my life is, I need to make things as easy as possible so that they'll actually get done. It's so much easier to motivate myself to clean out the chicken coop when I know there won't be a whole lot of wheelbarrowing (is that even a word?!) involved, and that self-understanding did inspire our coop design. :D

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