Monday, December 14, 2009

Winterizing Your Garden

As we have entered our official cold season and skipped what other areas of the United States calls "Indian Summer" in favor of our splash into the wet season, there are a few things gardeners can do to save time and, more importantly, frustrations.

Prepping a garden during the winter ensures that time and frustrations are minimal and that growth is maximal. Want to prevent your garden from harboring weeds, pests, and volunteer starts? Will you be ready and able to plant at the first hint of spring or will you be like me and the past two years, wondering where my head is as I realize I am a month late in my plantings? This year, I am gearing up to create a successful, and early garden.

Fall Clean Up

By now, we should all have cleaned out our garden plots of weeds, garden debris, spent vines, and any fruits or veggies that were not harvested. Some believe that leaving these refuse adds nutrition to the soil, but it can also add diseases, weeds, insect eggs, and other not-so-wanted pestilences.

Add Soil Amendments

Now is a fantastic time to add compost, mushroom soil, and leaves to our plots; by incorporating these amendments now, they will ensure that tiny microbes in the soil can decompose and expose the nutrition before spring's planting begins.

Winter Plantings

The Northwest climate is ripe for winter plantings, such as garlic, shallots, beets, lettuce, etc. if properly covered during frosts. Sowing a cover crop is also a fantastic idea so the soil can recover lost nitrogen and other nutrients.

Mulching and Applying Organic Material

If sowing a cover crop is not a feasible option as it is for some, then covering your plot with a mulch of compost, mushroom soil, or three to four inches of shredded leaves will restrict weed growth and encourage earthworm multiplication for easier spring clean-up and planting. Mulching protects plants from drastic temperature changes, insulates plants, and prevents soil erosion. A secret tip is to not mulch too early as it may encourage pests and disease--wait until after the first frost has occurred. 4-6 inches of pine needles, leaves, straw, corn stalks, and other organic material is a great use of mulching and composting.

Evaluating Garden Design

Lastly, before starting preparations, take a moment to review what worked and what did not. I used grow beds, but built the tops too steeply and caused too much water run-off and therefore soil erosion this past growing season. I will definitely not make that mistake again! A thoughtful plan will save hassles and money.

Soon it will be time to order and plant seeds, so make sure your garden and soil is as ready as you are.


Anonymous said...

where can I find Tagro?

Anonymous said...

Tagro Mix, potting soil and mulch are made from Class A biosolids, a byproduct of the City of Tacoma’s wastewater treatment process. The mix, which has been around since 1991, is made of 50 percent biosolids, 25 percent sawdust and 25 percent screened sand. The mulch and potting soil contain 20 percent biosolids and are virtually odor-free. The mulch also contains sawdust, while the potting soil includes sawdust and aged bark.

Tagro is safe for vegetable gardens, including root crops, according to Gordy Behnke, the city’s biosolids coordinator.

How to use: Tagro Mix falls somewhere between a fertilizer and a compost, so a large amount isn’t required to get great results. Mix into new planting beds or apply as a light top-dressing to lawns twice a year. The potting soil is ready to use. The mulch can be spread over the garden surface or be used as a bulk soil amendment to condition all types of soils.

Where to buy: Pick up products at the Tagro facility, 2201 Portland Ave., Gate 5, or have them delivered for an extra fee (call 253-502-2150 or check the Web site for details).

Web site: