Winterize Your Garden With Mulch, or With a Cover Crop
Sep 24, 2012 | 6378 views | 0 0 comments | 709 709 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of the best things you can do for your garden is top it off with mulch or plant it with a cover crop. It’s not so much the cold or the snow that hurts wintering plants – it’s the freeze-melt-thaw cycle. Mulch helps with that, decomposing over the winter and adding nutrients to the soil, and keeping perennials protected from the elements. Consider mulching with straw on your vegetable garden and wood chips on perennials. Cover crops like winter rye, red clover and mustards protect a annuals and vegetables pruned down for the winter.

For container gardeners, know your containers can freeze and crack, and that plants can die when their roots are not protected underground. Protect your plants in containers, by either bringing them indoors – into the garage or the basement or some sheltered place. If the storage area is cold, consider wrapping plant containers in blankets or several layers of plastic wrap. Do not fertilize.

Varieties of Mulching

For DIY mulching, collect and save the leaves that surround us, this time of the year, and in a year, they’ll be the perfect mulch. Store them in tightly closed plastic bags and by this time next year, you’ll have the perfect light mulch for your garden.

Fall is a good time for analyzing garden soil for information about everything from pH levels to nutrient analysis, and remedying any deficiencies. Fertilize and amend garden soil with natural organic materials like manure, compost, blood meal, bone meal, cottonseed meal and greensand.

Organic soil amendments go a long ways toward improving long-term health, as well. With a fall application, they have time to break down into a useable form by spring. A fall layer of mulch offers protection to plant roots, and protects evergreen foliage from soil-borne diseases. In colder climates, adding mulch after the ground freezes helps to prevent frost heave, keeping soil temperatures more even and protecting roots, at the same time.
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