Putting Gardens to Bed for Winter and Preparing for Spring

| 11/3/2016 9:33:00 AM

Tags: garden planning, winter gardening, Sean and Monica Mitzel, Idaho,


This is a beautiful time of year – leaves falling to the ground in colors of orange, red, and yellow. Birds and other little critters running around doing their last minute preparations for winter, and life begins to slow down just a little. One of the main activities we’ve been engaged in on the homestead is getting our gardens ready for winter, and prepped for an even more productive spring.

Soil Preparation for Winter

One thing to keep in mind when prepping your gardens for winter and spring – it’s all about your soil. Keep these in mind:

• Feed your soil, not your plants. Fertilizer tea and other natural fertilizers work best since they act slower and amend the soil rather than just feed a particular plant.
• Increase your organic matter through the use of compost (decayed remains and waste products of animals and plants) to increase the availability of the minerals in the soil and create more spaces for air and water.

We have three primary gardens and frankly our soil is not so great in two of them. We have made big efforts the last couple of years to increase soil fertility in our food forest and, with the addition of our herb garden this year, we’ve made the same efforts. Like anything natural, amending soil takes time, this is not an overnight fix. Here are our three primary gardens:

East garden. our perennial and annual garden which houses fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, strawberries, and this year, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, corn, carrots, and lettuce.

West garden. our culinary and medicinal herb garden. We are growing a few trees, some bushes, a selection of spring flowers, as well as many perennial herbs (and self-sowing annuals) – chamomile, echinacea, russian sage, lavender, parsley, cilantro, mint, lemon balm, catnip, yarrow, comfrey, and more.

Food forest. The food forest is is pretty self-explanatory. We are growing many fruit and nut trees, bushes, support species, and, since we are cooperating with succession, some annuals like garlic and flowers to attract pollinators.

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