We have had the dust hit the ground and the weather frost the windows, which means it is past time to get those raised beds ready for next season and put them to rest for the winter. Even though we have pasted our first frost, there are still steps you can take to make sure you have an even better spring and summer next year. We are going to go over some simple yet important steps to spend an moment on doin to make sure you are not wasting your raised beds you have worked so hard on making.
Step #1 – Clear and Clean
Time to tame the wilds and make it presentable. Clear out you old plants and weeds, the quicker the better as old rotting plants will lead to pest problems as they rot. You want to make sure the space is a clear landscape to work with again and you are able to preserve your soil health without unnecessary nutrition being spent on plants you will not harvest from again. Making sure you deal with the weeds now before they seed and cause problems will also make sure you can avoid tilling which should be avoided as much as possible in raised beds for the health of the soil and garden.
Step #2 – Document
As you are clearing things out and reflecting on how the season went this year, use this time to take some pictures and document the beds. Make notes in you gardening journal of issues you had, successes, and aspects you might want to keep in mind for next years planting season.
Step #3 – Feed Your Soil
Now that things have been cleared out, it is time to feed your soil and pamper it before resting. Spread some either fresh or matured manure, some compost, or other organic matter. This will not only revitalize your soil but due to the freezing and warming cycle will help it incorporate into your soil better during the fall. This can also be the time to address any shrinkage you may have noticed in your raised beds and make an amendment with the addition of stable material to make sure that your volume is sufficient.
Step #4 – Cover it up
Covering you raised beds is a great way to retain that good soil you have spent so much on creating and purchasing. You have a few options on how to cover depending on what your gardening practices might be. You can just put down some plastic and a few rocks to keep things nice and in place, you can grow some cover crop if you have a bit of a growing period still available, or you can add a mulch. Fall is a great source for some free mulch if you have a tree dropping leaves, using whole leaves as a mulch layer is a great way to retain you soil and can just be mixed in in the spring, adding to the organic material available in the soil. If you do so make sure to pull them back first, shred and then incorporate into the soil. You can also use grass clippings and straw as a form of mulch, grass though would be the more ideal option between them though as there will be more nutrients available to be mixed in in the spring.
Step #5 – Don’t Forget the Perennials
While you out in the garden you might as well spare a minute or two for the perennials to get their fall pruning done and covering. Make sure though that you are double checking which ones do better with fall pruning and which ones fair better in the spring. Blackberries for example are great fall time prunes, but will want to wait on other such as raspberries. Some of the main ones you should focus on for fall pruning is herbs such as chives and getting them cut back and veggies, such as asparagus and rhubarb.
Step #6 – Add in Your Season Extenders (Optional)
This one is optional and can wait if you are not sure yet if is something you want, but this is a great time to set up and establish your season extenders so that you can get started with right away in the spring. Getting them done now when things might be a little calmer and you aren’t worried as much about timing things just right is a great reason to add in these little hoop houses now to the raised beds and saving some work in the spring rush.