Getting Your Organic Garden Ready For Winter
With the arrival of winter, it may feel like the time for gardening is over, however there’s still plenty of preparation to be done to get your garden ready for the colder months…
Rather than taking a step back from the garden after the main harvesting season is over, now is the time to get your garden ready for the oncoming winter, a crucial time for reflecting on your garden’s successes over the past year and planning for the new year ahead.
There’s still lots of veg coming into season to be harvested in November, leafy greens such as kale and cabbage have been cropping up in their masses in our Market Garden, as well as fluffy cauliflowers, perfect for bulking out warming winter dishes and adding lots of much needed vitamins. This time of year is also great for harvesting root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, to add a bit of home-grown goodness to your Sunday roasts.
Image: Our Market Garden has been cabbage galore this November!
Look After Your Soil
As the last crops are harvested and veg patches are left bare, now is the time to be getting rid of any dead or dying foliage and stems to add to your compost heap.
With winter approaching it’s important to add a protective layer over your soil to prevent it from losing the nutrients you’ve worked hard all year to get into it. Mulches are a great way to protect your soil and give it a good structure for next year’s growing ahead of time. A variety of organic matter can be used as mulch, including wet autumn leaves, straw, grass clippings and cut back plants, however laying down your valuable compost is not advised at this point as there’s a chance it could be blown or washed away in the winter weather.
Take Care of Wildlife
Organic gardening is just as much about the plants and the soil as it is about the creatures we share the garden with. By offering them a helping hand over winter you’ll ensure your garden is kept healthy and thriving.
Whilst it might be tempting to get stuck into some weeding and general tidying up of the garden on dryer winter days, in an organic garden its best practice to not be thorough through the winter months. Leaf piles, hollow stems and other plant debris can provide excellent homes for hibernating insects who come springtime will be beneficial to the garden, helping to control pests and pollinate.
As it gets colder and frostier, it’s also a great idea to put up some bird feeders to help out our feathered friends when their food gets scarcer.
Image: Help out our feathered friends this winter by filling bird feeders.
Just because it's cold outside doesn’t mean planting has to come to a halt, winter can be a relatively productive time for planting and planning your crops for the coming year.
Whilst the ground is still soft and not frozen over it’s a great time to plant fruit trees, which are a great long-term investment in your organic garden, producing fruit for years to come. Make sure you are planting them in a sheltered area as wind and rain have the potential to damage the young trees.
Garlic is also a great vegetable to be planting around this time, requiring a period of cold weather for good bulb development. Avoid overly heavy or wet soil, as this can leave garlic prone to disease and rot, by starting them off in modules in a cold frame before moving them to the wider garden in spring.