Most people think that gardening begins when the weather breaks after a nasty winter, but most likely they are not gardeners. Any true gardener knows that preparing for a successful harvest means preparing in the late fall-early winter for the NEXT harvest season. Outside garden beds which in most cases just lay fallow all winter, must be properly “put to sleep” to insure that vital nutrients are available for the planting in the spring.
After the harvest in the fall when weather will no longer allow us to plant in our region, we begin the garden hibernation
process. Actually we involve many of our neighbors, because they know we want all fallen leaves and grass clippings from their yard. They happily cut, rake, blow and bag as they would every year, but instead of setting it out for the trash or going to the dump they call me. I will gladly stop by and pick up all bags. Why? Because leaf and grass clippings make a great garden bed cover for winter!
Processing for use is simple. I just get out my mulching lawnmower, open the bags, and mulch away! Mulching the grass and leaves into very small pieces will allow for maximum composting over the winter.
The only other ingredient I add is the
manure/hay mix from our rabbits. This is one great reason to keep rabbits as their manure is highly compostable and rich in N-P-K. (Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium).
As a side note: I believe chickens are better than rabbits as they are much more beneficial to gardening overall than rabbits. If you have followed our other posts, you already know why we have rabbits instead of chickens. If not, read: Saving Buffy our year old Orpington
After processing I spread the mixture across our garden beds to
lay all winter. This mixture will compost down over the winter and in spring afford us some nutrient rich soil. Many years, I have also sown winter wheat and hairy vetch into the mixture which in spring is just cut and mixed into soil to further enrich the spring soil.
Now my garden beds are ready for their winter sleep, waking in spring energized, enriched for a great spring planting!
Read on: Preparing for Spring? Part 2