Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Preparing your bed for winter

Fall is here, and it is time to prepare your garden plot for the cold months ahead.  By following some of the tips below, your fall efforts will result in a better plot come spring!

Please clean up any dead plants in your plot. Chop thick plants like broccoli and tomato vines with a hatchet before putting them in the composter. Follow the composter instructions. 

Feel free to leave kale, spinach, lettuce, tatsoi, or other hardy vegetables in your bed.  This is also the time to plant garlic for harvesting next summer!   Local garlic is still available at the market, and also at the Pig and Olive butcher shop on Bath Road. Split the bulb and plant each clove individually, about four inches apart, in a dense square. Garlic is easy to grow and is ready by mid July, leaving space to grow something else.

We also recommend mulching your plot with shredded leaves.
The best amendment for clay soil is shredded leaves that have weathered for a few months. A 6- to 8-inch layer of shredded leaves rototilled into your plot in the spring will turn your clay into soft garden soil. 

Your neighbours are already starting to bag leaves and put them at the curb. You’re free to take them, leave them in the sun to dry, then crunch and shred the leaves. Spread them on your bed and leave them exposed for the winter. By spring, they’ll be semi-composted. We plan to rent a rototiller in April (on a non-rainy day, we promise!) so we can all have 10 minutes to dig our garden. Please note that leaves left whole will just blow away, and those that don’t will form a thick leathery mat rather than leaf mulch.

If collecting and shredding leaves seems like too much work, the next-best type of amendment is a large bale of peat moss. (Note that Canadian Tire never puts it on sale, so there’s no advantage to buying it early.) Peat moss blows away in the slightest wind, so don’t put it on your bed until you’re ready to dig it in. Don’t worry about the acidity—Kingston sits on limestone, which constantly neutralizes acid soil.

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