All year, I felt like my garden wasn’t as great as it could have been, but I knew that it didn’t matter because next year I can start all over again. So it felt really good putting my garden to bed this year.
I mentioned in my post from last year about putting my garden to bed, that every year is different and this year was no exception. This year, I did all the same stuff as last year, but with less overwintering crops and more burlap.
My 2013 “Putting the Garden to Bed” Checklist was as follows-
1. Bring in the drip irrigation– I brought in (to store in the shed) as much of the drip irrigation as I could. The timer and valves were very important to bring in, since that was all replaced just this year. I also brought in most of the drip emitters and the hoses that go from the valves to the mainline. I leave the mainlines, as those would be a pain to remove. They also seem to endure the freezing weather better than the drip emitters, probably in part to their larger size. Removing the drip emitters also helps because it allows the water to escape, so there is less of it to freeze inside the lines and cause cracking.
2. Pull out any dead crops and clean up beds– There wasn’t much to pull up this time, as most of my crops have been done for awhile. So all I had to pull out was the dead jalapeño plants and some green onions that were too old and gross to eat. I also did one last quick weeding.
3. Plant cover crops or cover beds with burlap– It’s terrible, but I have kind of given up on cover crops. I know they are great for preventing erosion and then adding organic matter back to the beds in the Spring, but I just can’t seem to get them to grow. The first year, something came along and ate all the seeds. The next year, I covered the freshly planted bed with row cover and was elated when they actually sprouted. Imagine my disappointment when, a couple of days later, I went out to an empty bed. The critters around here seem extra aggressive and hungry this time of year, so I think they may have won. That said, this year, I just covered the empty beds with burlap.
Last month, I planted beets, spinach, radishes, arugula and mustard greens under the cloche. The spinach had barely germinated and then got eaten, as well as most of the beets. Everything on the other side of the bed; the radishes, arugula and mustard greens seem to be doing fine… not sure why. Again, I have gotten so used to this in the Fall, that I can’t be too bummed out. I purposely planted old seeds, to use them up, but also so if nothing grew it wouldn’t be too big of a loss.
And let’s not forget the garlic! I planted a whole row of garlic last month. Every year I plant more than the previous year, because we go through it. So at the very least, I can look forward to seeing those sprout up in the Spring.
And so it goes. I don’t mind that, this Fall and Winter, I will have mostly empty beds covered in burlap, because it will provide the perfect clean slate for next year. It’s one of the things I love about gardening. Every year is a fresh start!