Given my track record, I never once thought I would want/have a garden. But now that we have this house with so much yard space, it seems absolutely silly not to have a garden. Plus, I love any excuse that keeps me outdoors and active. So as soon as we moved in, I vowed to plant a vegetable garden come Spring.
(This is my "bit of earth" -- the plot of land I intend to turn into a thriving vegetable garden!)
What I didn't realize was that it's important to get that Spring garden ready for the winter. I thought I would share what I've learned with you, and maybe you'd be able to give me some tips as well.
Step One: Clean Up
Apparently, it's actually super important to clean up your garden before the first frost hits. Thankfully, we've had a super mild fall (except for that freak snowstorm in October, but I'd say that was a fluke considering it's currently 63 degrees outside). This means removing all stones, weeds, leaves, etc. from your garden. My mother-in-law also taught me to cut any plants you want to keep down to the plant. We have some nice plants out front (not vegetable plants, just pretty flowery plants), so I cut away all the deadness and superfluousness and now it's ready to revitalize itself in the spring.
Getting rid of the dead/rotting stuff in the garden helps to keep pesky bugs away because you won't give them much reason to stick around. It also removes the possibility of disease from your future plants. So step one in getting your garden winter-ready is cleaning up!
(Here's an important question for all you experienced gardeners: How do I safely remove poison ivy from my garden plot, and how do I safely dispose of it? I honestly have no idea. I will look around online and all, but I would love to hear your tried-and-true methods, because I need to play it safe -- especially since I'll be working on clearing out the garden while also watching babykins.)
Step Two: Ready the Soil
After cleaning up the garden, it's time to think about readying the soil. There are a number of things that can be done. If you've planned far-enough-ahead (which I haven't...obviously...it being almost-December and all), planting a cover crop to grow in the soil over the winter will keep the soil nutritious. To be honest, I don't know much about it, but it sounds interesting. You can read about it in detail here. For something a little faster and more convenient, one site recommends covering the location with cardboard/newspaper, and then putting rich soil over it. Apparently, this kills weeds and enriches the soil. For real. That's crazy, as in crazy-awesome.
Personally, I'm going to prepare the soil by starting a compost. I have yet to decide whether I will buy a compost bin or just set one up in the backyard. Any suggestions? I'll update you on the composting in a separate post once I get things under way.
Step Three: Get Your Gear
During the winter months, make sure you have all your gardening gear in order. Is everything sharpened? Shined? Easily accessible? Do you need to buy anything else? Keep a list and start checking out some local thrift stores over the winter months.
Since I've literally JUST STARTED this whole gardening-thing, here's what I have:
Alright. What else should I invest in??
Step Four: Plan It Out
Decide what types of vegetables you want to plant, and plan out when and where to plant them. Since I don't know much about vegetable gardening, I'm not sure where to begin on this one, other than dream of planting tomatoes and squashes and kale. If you have any suggestions on the best things to start with, please comment and let me know!
(Part of my plan is to wear these spiffy boots whenever it rains. That's all I've got so far.)
Step Five: The Ultimate Game Plan Against Your Garden's Arch Nemesis
Come up with a game plan in case your garden gets attacked. I know for a fact that my garden's arch nemeses are the squirrels that lurk about these parts. We couldn't even leave our pumpkins outside without them succumbing to the wrath of the squirrels. If you've gardened before, how have you dealt with such troubles as squirrels and bugs wreaking havoc on your precious plants?
My sources - and some great links to get you started: