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There’s a certain thrill to seeing a ripe, fully colored tomato in your garden and using it for homemade salsa the next week. However, the time for soaking in that feeling is over, and as the seasons change, so must our gardening habits. As winter draws near, here are a few different things you should think about doing to protect your garden during the offseason.

  1. Make sure that your gardening tools are polished. It doesn’t matter if you have a brand new leaf collector or the dirtiest wheelbarrow east of the Mississippi. Your equipment needs to be cared for and put away, so make sure everything from pocket snips to weeders goes in the shed as soon as you don’t need it anymore. If you take care of good equipment, you won’t need to be wasteful and continually buy new tools.
  2. Try not to rake your leaves. While raking can be a solid workout, it can also damage your yard. Research has proven that mowing leaves on and around your garden is more efficient and better for the soil, and unraked leaves in planting beds seldom smother shade-tolerant perennial plants.
  3. Not everything needs to be cut! Some flowers and tall plants should stay standing tall. Sunflowers and thistles are especially important to butterflies and birds during the winter. Some plants and flowers can still be used as food and sanctuary. While some plants need to be eliminated, keep a few around for our fellow nature creatures.
  4. Cover up with compost. One to six inches of compost should do the trick when covering up the garden. This can be made of many different things, so get creative! It doesn’t just have to be manure or leaves.

You can find more in-depth tips here.