In November, my family comes up and helps me prepare my place for winter by cleaning gutters, cutting back foliage, making small repairs, and so on. They also help me prepare the vegetable beds for planting in the spring. This is what it looks like after we are finished:
Here is how we do it:
- All the spent vegetable plants are pulled and put in the yard waste bin. Except, as you can see, the leek starts and kale–those are allowed to grow all winter for harvest.
- Then my daughter helps me separate the worm bin contents, putting the red wigglers and the uneaten vegetable scraps back into the bin and taking out the worm castings. The castings are then evenly distributed among the beds, spreading it on top.
- Next, we haul sacks of maple leaves from the trees in back and mound them on top of the castings.
- Finally, a layer of Cedar Grove compost is put on top of the leaves to keep them from blowing off during winter, plus it gives more nutrients to the soil. I use one sack per bed.
The beds are then allowed to sit undisturbed during the winter. At some point, a miracle happens and the leaves decompose into a crumbly, rich soil. In the spring, before cool-weather crop planting in March, I turn the whole thing into the soil underneath, along with a complete organic fertilizer I buy at Furney’s Nursery. And now I’m ready for another delicious season of vegetable gardening!