As the air grows chill, it’s time to bring your potted plants inside and begin the process of winterizing your raised garden beds. Grab your leaf bags, a rake, some gloves, a handy checklist, and get your garden ready for winter and next spring.
Cleaning Out Garden Beds in Fall
The first step towards winterizing your raised garden beds requires a little elbow grease. Cleaning out equipment and debris from your beds helps your garden stay clean and thriving. Start by removing dead annuals and composting or disposing of them; it will save you a ton of work in spring! It’s also best to prune back vegetable foliage and anything else that requires fall pruning. You’ll also need to remove seasonal hardscaping like trellises, stakes, and tomato cages. Pack them away safely in your shed or garage to protect them from the winter elements.
Adding Soil and Compost to Garden Beds
If you’ve been composting throughout the year, you should have plenty to spread on your raised garden beds. Adding nutrient-rich compost is an important part of winterizing your garden beds. You can work the compost into the soil with a tiller or by hand; the goal is to get a good dose of nutrients into the soil to help with spring growth. It’s a good idea to top up your raised garden beds with soil at this stage so you and your plants can have a head start in spring.
Mulching and Watering Your Raised Garden Beds
Watering your raised garden beds is one way to winterize them and protect them from cold damage. Keep an eye on the forecast, and if the temperatures look like they will dip down for good, it’s time to let the remaining plants deeply drink one last time before winter sets in. You want the water to saturate the roots fully, so don’t be shy; just make sure you’re watering them at least one day in advance so the water can lock in the warmth and insulate the roots. Likewise, shredded bark mulch is a great insulator. It traps heat and moisture and has the added benefit of smothering any potential weeds from coming up in early spring.
Building New Garden Beds
Besides just your winterizing steps, fall is a perfect time to DIY new raised garden beds for next spring. They are quite easy to build, and can be customized to your ideal aesthetic. Think outside the traditional wooden box and look into materials like plastic, concrete, stones, bricks, and corrugated metal. The basic elements of a raised garden bed involve a frame that keeps all your plants and soil in place, so get creative. Before you build, you’ll need to think ahead to three main questions:
What do I want to grow?
What do those plants need to thrive?
Where do I want new raised garden beds in my yard?
These questions will help you choose the size of the beds you build and where you place them. You’ll want optimal light conditions for the plants of your choice, as well as protection from harsh elements and predators. Make sure you have a big enough area of level ground to build your new garden beds on; it’s also smart to built it near a hose or water source.
Protecting Your Garden Beds in Winter
Your approach to winterizing your garden beds will depend on a few factors. Most well-established flower beds won’t need protecting besides some mulching for certain plants. New perennials introduced this year will need an extra layer of protection. In most cases, a thick layer of mulch will help insulate those tender roots, but you can also try cloches, which act as a tiny greenhouse.
Winterizing your raised garden beds in Iowa now will make spring smooth sailing. For more questions about preparing your garden for winter, come visit us!