My garden isn’t looking very pretty right now, but I think it has a certain orderliness about it. Don’t you?
I try my hardest to do a thorough mulching job on it before winter really hits so that it can sit and compost until it’s time to plant in April and May. There are two reasons for this:
- It makes your soil much richer. Basically, you’re fertilizing it without adding fertilizer. Nature does all the work 🙂 (Kind of….I mean, you do have to go through the motions and work of adding the mulch,lol)
- The mulch acts as a weed barrier against those early spring weeds (and even summer ones!)
Most years, due to fall harvest (which starts in mid-October and drags on until the first of December, unlike the speediness of wheat harvest!) I don’t get to the mulching until January. Plus, during the last couple years, we haven’t even gotten a freeze until almost Thanksgiving. I’m not going to pull out perfectly wonderful producing tomato plants until nature kills them good and dead 😉
This year, God saw fit to give us a hard freeze in mid-October and then bless us with a blissful Indian summer! So, I was able to get the garden cleaned up and mulched.
The last couple years I put down cardboard then a heavy layer of cow manure, then forked the straw on top of that. I tell ya, doing this has transformed my clay soil! It just crumbles in my hand now and smells so good! (Only a true gardener could think composted manure could smell good, right??)
This fall I just laid down cardboard (and only over the area that I let go too much to grass this summer…sigh…) and then put lots of straw over that. I also did a section with old alfalfa. I’m curious if I’ll notice a difference between the alfalfa and the straw this summer while everything is growing.
I have one bare spot that I didn’t quite have enough straw to cover at the time, but I figure on a decent January day, I’ll bring up some small squares and cover that. The rest of the garden I used old round bales, which I personally prefer because you can cover a large area pretty quickly with a pitchfork. Unfortunately, our new baler makes much tighter bales and Jeff said I wouldn’t be able to fork any off of those, so once my stash is used up, I’m stuck using small squares forever after.
I can see my garden from my bedroom window and I love looking out at it and pondering what and where I’ll plant everything….
Which brings me to my next subject: Seed catalogs!!!!
Who else loves perusing these things during the dead of winter??? Me!!!! *hand raised*
My very favorite is the Seed Savers catalog. The pictures are just GORGEOUS and so inspiring! Plus they have historical descriptions, which the history buff inside of me LOVES.
This is always the first one to arrive at my house. I grab a sharpie and start marking anything and everything that intrigues me. Later in February when it’s actually time to order, I go through and realistically whittle my dream list down. I always try to pick one new thing every year. Sometimes they end up amazing (like the year I grew popcorn and Indian corn!) and sometimes they totally flop (the year I tried Kansas cantaloupes…). And like every year, nothing ever stays the same and I can rarely repeat my successes!
Gardening, though, is really an addiction like gambling (your depending on chance for success!), but a healthier one, right??
Are you dreaming of spring?? What do you plan on growing this year?