If you missed step 1 in this series you can read it here.
Now that you have all of your plants removed, it’s time for step 2 of wintering your garden.
It’s time to till up your garden beds. We use a low-till method on our homestead. This means we don’t till so deep that we disturb the natural order of the soil, but we till just enough to break up clumps and aerate this soil. The soil needs to be smooth enough for worms to tunnel through and break up organic matter.
If you prefer a no-till method when winterizing your garden, you can skip this step and move onto adding organic matter. We use a moderate tiller. It’s a handheld tiller that works on gas. I’m not strong enough to control it, so my husband does the tilling around here. Ours has two sets of tilling blades. Depending on the width of ground you’re planning to disturb, you may want to remove one set of tilling tines if your space is small. We keep all of them on for a full turnover.
One action to take when winterizing your garden is to hand pick any root balls out. The tiller will bring much to the surface. We pull these out by hand and put them in the compost or burn pile. Some of these are from plants and others are just plain weeds. My husband makes his way up and down the rows until the entire garden is turned over.
Once all of the roots and weeds are free from the garden, it’s time to add organic matter.
I’m in the compost bin. I am shoveling out all of the organic matter we’ve stirred all summer. As I push it into the garden, my husband tills it in. Some of it has broken down completely, other parts have not. We put it all in the garden and start our compost pile over again each fall.
It will take all winter for organic matter to break down and replenish the nutrients in your soil. So be sure you add as much as you can. Once you have tilled in your organic matter, it’s time to top of your garden soil. In our next article, we will discuss what to put on top of your garden for winterizing and what a cover crop is and if you should plant one.
~Until next time,
Question: Do you add organic matter to your gardens in the fall?