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Weekly Tips | October 14, 2013

Winterizing Your Garden

You can't beet a cool season vegetable patch, but if winter gardening is no mâché for you, then it's time to settle the beds down for a long winter's nap. Before tucking them in, why not plot ahead to yield better results? Click here to make the most of mulching, and watch your garden grow through the winter months!

Clean up

Removing bolted vegetables, molded fruit, weeds and dead plants from the garden will decrease the potential for pests and diseases to survive the winter. 

Healthy perennials can survive the cold months. Simply cut them back to a few inches above the soil. As long as the roots are unharmed, these plants will return next year.

Amend the soil 

As colorful leaves start blanketing your yard, there is an alternative to putting them into the yard & food waste container. With a home composting system you can turn your leaf pile in to a nutrient-rich soil amendment, which when applied, also acts as a natural repellent to weeds. 

The best compost contains an equal amount of carbon and nitrogen. This means that the amount of green versus brown waste in your compost pile should be balanced. 

Green materials (nitrogen) include: food scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings and plant cuttings. Make sure that the plants you add to the compost pile are not pest ridden.  

Brown materials (carbon) include: dead leaves, hay and straw, paper products (Newspaper or cardboard), crushed egg shells, tea bags, wood ashes and sawdust. 

Here is an interactive way to learn the basics of creating a balanced compost pile. For a more detailed description of how to create compost, check out this cheat sheet. 

If you’d like a hands-on way to learn how to winterize your garden and protect your soil during the winter months, Seattle Tilth is offering an outdoor class on October 19th from 2-4:00pm. Learn more and sign up here.

Cover Up

Once you’ve weeded and amended the soil, make it last with a layer of mulch. Mulch is a protective cover placed over soil to reduce weeds and erosion, and retain moisture and warmth. While there are myriad of store-bought options to suit your visual preference, purchasing isn’t necessary, you can even use that growing leaf pile to do the job if home composting isn’t in the cards. 

  1. Rake up your leaves, grass clippings and other yard material.

  2. Place in an even layer 1-3 inches deep on your garden beds.

  3. Water to keep the mulch in place and to start decomposition


Resources: Earth 911 | Earth 911 Composting Cheat Sheet | Compost 4 Fun | Better Homes & Gardens | Seattle Tilth | Seattle Public Utilities

The Big Picture

The EPA estimates that in 2011, 36 million tons of food waste was generated, with only 4% diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting. In the same year, U.S. households spent a total $29.5 billion on lawns and gardens. 

Winterize your garden before the cold months hit to get a head start on next year’s work.  

Sources: US EPA | National Gardening Association

compost  mulch  soil 


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