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Returning the Nutrients

Photo of a lavender plant with leaves around the base

Part II: Putting the Garden to Bed

There is no better garden than next year’s garden.

Unknown quote, but it’s my favorite saying

But First, a Snack

Before putting the garden to bed, it’s always a good idea to give the soil and any perennial plants a snack before bed. They might not “eat” during the winter, but they will be awfully hungry upon waking and it saves you time and effort when you do it now.

Photo of the garden bed and my rake

For the garden beds, I give everything a good rake and add some all-purpose fertilizer. The soil put in a lot of hard work this summer, giving everything it had to my plants, so I make sure to mix in some fertilizer and compost at this stage. This gives ample time for the fertilizer to absorb and compost to decompose. I’ll do this part again in the spring, too.

The Perfect Comforter

After putting down some fertilizer and compost (don’t forget the compost around the base of your perennial plants like the lavender and hydrangeas!), I get ready to put down a thick layer of leaves. We have a ridiculous number of trees on our property and they don’t all lose their leaves at the same time. This means I am moving leaves for the better part of a month. When I get tired of blowing the leaves and bagging I take the opportunity to create the most perfect comforter for my garden. I like to use put the bag attachment on my push-mower and chop up the leaves before dumping them on the beds – but you don’t have to do that if you can’t.

Why Leaves?

First of all, they are bountiful – at least in the part of the country where I live. I find there is no point in buying anything expensive or fancy when Mother Nature is providing me with the best all-natural and organic mulch.

Second, as these leaves decompose over time, they prevent weeds from sprouting up and unwanted seeds from landing on the soil to sprout down.

Third, like any store-bought mulch, they do a great job of maintaining soil moisture and temperature.

Fourth, the leaves ultimately breakdown and add to the nutrients in the soil as another form of compost.

And just like that, you’ve put the garden to bed for the winter. Remember to turn off and unhook any hoses you have out and tidy up any trash. I’ll see you in the spring when we help the garden to wake up!

<<Part I: Planting the Garlic

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