Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine, shows you how to sow a cover crop and mulch before winter.
Tags:mulching and cover crops for your winter beds,monkey see,how to winterize your garden,kathy jentz,monkeysee,washington gardener magazine,winterizing garden tips
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Hi, I’m Kathy Jentz. We’re talking about how to winterize your vegetable garden and now we’re going to do mulching and cover crops for your winter beds.
So, we’re just clearing out the last plants from our eggplant bed. So, we’ll get that into the compost pile and what we’re planning to do with this bed is a cover crop of rye so that will introduce nutrients and nitrogen back into the soil during the winter time and next early spring you’ll just rip out the rye and plant which crops you like in the bed.
So, we’re smoothing it out, roughing up the soil just a little bit to get some traction for the seed and we have our bag of rye seed here and this will be pretty easy. You just need to scatter it and then a pretty good coverage. So, no need to make neat rows, half of this of course will be eaten by the birds but you’ll put plenty of seed down so it won’t matter if the birds get over half of them.
So, you have a nice coverage and then we’ll come back and water this in the little bit and water in the next few days and it should have sprouting within five to seven days. So, that’s how we do our cover crops.
Now, we’re at our strawberry bed, we’ve cleaned out any weeds and debris. We want to clean out any dead parts of the plant as well to get it ready for winter. Anything diseased, you want to throw it away in your municipal compost not in your own compost pile.
So, we have a bale of straw. We’re going to mulch around the plants with this and we want to do a pretty thick layer but avoid the crown of the plants so you want to leave that clear so it can get some sun and rain during the winter time but you're laying the straw around to block any weeds and other winter seedlings from coming up around the strawberries.
You’re also providing a nice winter blanket so they won’t get frozen should you have a really bad freeze in your area. So, we’ve cleared out this big bed of melons and we’re ready to give it a nice mulch and put it to bed for the winter.
We have two different mulches we’re using today. One is a Leafgro soil conditioner and this is great for breaking up particles if you got heavy clay soil as we do in the mid-Atlantic area and we’re also using a nice “Pine-Fine” soil conditioner. This is all organic so once we’re working our organic Leafgro, we’ll put on top of it these “Pine Fines” which are really small, hard wood pieces from pine trees shredded up.
You don’t want to use the large hard wood mulch pieces because those actually pull out nitrogen from your soil and will do nothing for the condition of it at least for the next five to ten years. If you have compost that you’ve made yourself, feel free to add that at this point as well. If you have aged manure, that’s also a great thing to add to your vegetable beds at this time of year.
So, adding a final top dressing of “Pine-Fines” to keep back any weeds in the winter for your vegetable beds and next we’ll talk about creating a new garden bed.