Putting Your Vegetable Garden to Bed

Growing your own vegetables is a rewarding hobby that has grown in popularity over the recent years. If you planted a vegetable garden this season, it's time to start thinking about "putting it to bed" for the season.

Once fall arrives, some important steps should be taken to protect your hard work and ensure you'll be enjoying fresh vegetables year after year.

Clean-Up the Plants

The first step is to remove any dead plants and place them in your compost pile. (For tips on starting a compost pile, see this article).

Turn the Soil

Next, turn the soil using a pitch fork. Simply stab, lift and flip the soil over throughout your vegetable garden. Doing this will expose destructive insects to freezing temperatures and help your soil retain nutrients throughout the winter.

After you've flipped your soil over, use a broad fork to loosen the soil underneath. Simply insert it into the ground and rock it back and forth gently. After you've broken up the soil, add a 4 to 6 inch layer of compost. Earthworms will gravitate to the compost and pull it down into the subsoil to improve the overall health of your planting area.

Add Protection

Put all those leaves you're raking to good use by placing them over your vegetable garden for added protection. A six inch layer, followed by a three inch layer of straw is ideal.

Finally, apply fertilizer and give the entire area a good soaking with the hose.

Taking a few precautions in the fall will ensure that your garden will be ready to plant next spring!