Gardeners will have more fun next spring with a winterized vegetable bed, because prepared soil saves some sweaty work. Here is how it’s done.
Late autumn is the optimal time to winterize vegetable beds. This way you will not only have less work next spring, but at the same time the soil is already well prepared for the next season. To ensure that the soil of the vegetable bed survives the cold season without damage and can be worked effortlessly in the spring, you should dig down to the depth of a spade every one to three years, especially in heavy, clayey areas that tend to compact. The effect of frost breaks up the clods of soil and the clods disintegrate into loose crumbs.
In addition, a spade can be used to bring up to the surface slug eggs or roots of stoloniferous weeds that have been deposited in cracks and can be easily collected. The argument that the soil life is disorganized when the lower layers are brought to the surface is correct, but the activity of the organisms is only inhibited for a short time.
Mulching beds in autumn
Do not turn the soil in beds of fall lettuces, chard, leeks, kale and other winter vegetables. A mulch layer of coarsely chopped straw or collected fall leaves, possibly mixed with humus-rich compost, prevents the soil from becoming soggy or deeply frozen and protects it from erosion. The rotting leaves also gradually turn into valuable humus.
Cover unused vegetable beds or sow green manure.
If the season in your vegetable bed is over for this year, you should cover the bed completely. Straw or autumn leaves are also suitable for this purpose. If you do not have enough natural material at hand for larger areas, you can use mulch fleece or foil. Biodegradable versions of these are also available. On harvested areas, you can also sow winter rye or forest perennial rye (an old type of cereal) as green manure. The plants germinate even at temperatures around 5 °C / 41 °F and grow strong tufts of leaves.