(Tucking your veggie garden in for the winter)

Thanks to my Dad and his wonderful veggie garden, we had delicious, fresh veggies all summer long. My daughter and I really miss the fresh tomatoes but we will enjoy his homemade tomato sauce this winter. To reciprocate, I am bringing home a little goody bag from Van Wilgen’s for my dad.

This year Dad did not plant any cool-season crops such as broccoli, lettuce, arugula, or Brussel sprouts, so his garden is all set to be tucked in for the winter. No excuses. Not only should I bring home an “over-wintering” goody bag for my Dad but if we were really good, my daughter and I would actually help him with the tucking-in process.

What is in this goody bag I am bringing home? I am filling the goody bag with Garden Lime, Garden-Tone, Diatomaceous Earth, and 3lbs of Winter Rye seed. For his little Strawberry patch, I picked up a bag of Mainely Mulch.

So what do I want my Dad to do with all these winter goodies? Why does his garden need all these treats? Fall veggie garden clean-up is very important. My dad already did one of the hardest chores. He pulled out all the spent vegetables. He composted a few that had no signs of disease or insect damage and the rest I forced him to put in a plastic bag and throw in the garbage. I did not want him to throw the old tomato plants showing signs of fungal leaf spot into his compost.

Thanks Dad for doing the hardest part. Now, we will help! I brought home the Garden Lime because it is very important to keep the pH level neutral for vegetables. Almost all veggies like the soil sweet. Potatoes are an exception, so don’t throw the Lime in the corner where they are planted. My daughter and I will sprinkle the Lime onto the soil of the cleaned-up veggie garden. The next layer is Garden-Tone. Garden-Tone is a good, all-purpose, organic, vegetable garden fertilizer. You are probably wondering why the heck I am fertilizing the soil with no veggies in the ground! I am crazy. That is why. Well, that is not actually why but maybe there is some element of crazy. The good crazy, of course! Vegetables use up the nutrients from the soil bed all summer. They need the energy to give us all those delicious veggies. Now, it is time for us to give back. Sprinkle Garden-Tone right on top of the Garden Lime.

What’s next? Diatomaceous Earth. Not everyone does this but being the “bug lady” that I am, I like this step. Sprinkle a layer of organic Diatomaceous Earth as your next layer on top of the soil. It is great for killing overwintering insects that may be hiding in the soil.

My daughter can help me spread all of these products onto the soil. We are dealing with all-natural products that will completely benefit the garden bed. Now it is important to till all the products into the top 6 inches of soil. Voila! We have magically restored the soil in my Dad’s veggie garden. His veggies will be so much happier next year and we will all benefit. Thanks Dad!

One more step to take and we are done. My daughter will like this part. Time to spread the Winter Rye Seed. Winter Rye is a very inexpensive and great cover crop for your vegetable garden. October and November are perfect months to plant Winter Rye. Winter Rye does so many good things to the soil…stops erosion, aerates, keeps weeds from taking over, allows water to flow through, and nourishes the soil. Winter Rye must be mowed or cut down in the spring before it goes to seed head. Till it into the garden bed 3 weeks before you are going to plant. It is a wonderful “green manure.”

p.s. I almost forgot about the Mainely Mulch. Simple. Just spread it a few inches thick over your sweet strawberries to protect them from the cold.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!