Winding Down

This week we look at how we can get ready for next year's gardening with preparations now and by letting nature do the heavy lifting for us. Also, more great native perennial shrubs that are no-fuss and highly productive. Finally, bringing back childhood memories with grape jam!

Preparing Garden Beds for Next Year

The thing with gardening organically is that we rely on natural, organic matter to provide fertility for our plants and feed all the beneficial micro and macro organism in the soil. It’s a complex, symbiotic relationship between soil and plants. But it takes time for organic matter to break down therefore, we need to be placing it on our garden beds now so that over the spring, summer, and fall next year our plants can benefit and be productive. Layering our gardens with some materials now means that material will be at least partially broken down when we go to plant in the spring. We like to use thin alternating layers of caron rich and nitrogen-rich materials as soon as we take this year’s crop out of the garden.

Here’s what we use:

Carbon-rich materials

  • Cardboard – corrugated is best

  • Straw

  • Leaves – mow them a bit to start the breakdown process

Nitrogen Rich Materials

  • Seaweed

  • Coffee grounds

  • Compost

  • Animal manures – see if there is a horse farm in your neighborhood. They are often glad to have someone come take some away.

Use what you have most conveniently around you, but try to balance out the carbon and nitrogen-rich materials. Adding just a few inches each year to your veggie beds will give you more productive soils and you will have less work next spring and throughout the growing season.

Take a look at these videos to see the benefits sheet mulching and amending your garden soil.