Preparing your soil for the winter is largely a matter of outdoor housekeeping. It’s time to take your cleaning skills to the garden!

Remove any annual plants and trim back perennials where appropriate. Removing this debris will improve air circulation and help to reduce the spread of disease. Weeds should also be removed at this time. If added to your compost pile this debris can go on to have another life as mulch in your garden next year.

Once your garden is clean, apply mulch to blanket the soil, keeping weeds down and protecting soil temperatures. Rains can cause erosion and wash away valuable nutrients, while extreme temperatures can harm the soil microbes that are still busy this time of year. Compost can help replenish lost nutrients.

In garden beds that will be empty for the winter a compost rich in manure, like Barnyard or Blended Mint Compost can be applied. Come spring, this soil will be enriched and ready for planting.

An alternate plan would be to plant a cover crop in these areas. These are crops (like crimson clover) that provide winter protection for soil. In the spring they will get tilled in to the soil and provide it with valuable Nitrogen.

The other soil areas that might need some attention this time of year are your pathways! Those that are not made of concrete or stone can become a muddy mess in the winter. So don’t forget to apply another layer of gravel, bark or woodchips to keep the muddy footprints to a minimum!