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Earlier this week, I shared how I had spent time out in the garden gathering one last harvest in preparation for the winter. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read about it yet, hop on over and check it out. Don’t worry, I’ll wait! 🙂 Today, I’m going to share with you how I get FREE mulch that I put down in the garden to prep it for winter.
First things, first. Are you asking why I would even bother with going through the hassle to put mulch down in my garden for winter? I get it, I do! It took me a few years to figure it out myself. For the first several years of having a garden, I would just leave my plants in the garden when the season was over and hope for the best. Not only did that leave my garden looking a hot mess as things died but it was also contributing to dwindling garden production in the years that followed. I’m not going to go into lots of detail here about soil structure and whatnot so I’ll link to a few articles that I’ve found helpful in my own research for prepping my garden for winter:
5 Ways to Build Soil in Winter (GrowVeg)
Preparing a Vegetable Garden for Winter (How Stuff Works)
Preparing Your Vegetable Garden for Winter (Mother Earth News)
Long story short, I was killing my garden by allowing all of those old plants to hang around and fester. Fester no more, Garden! I’ve seen the light and I will spare you future suffering!
One way that we prep our garden for winter is to cover it with a thick layer of leaves.
Why leaves? Great question. . .
- They decompose nicely and quickly which puts nutrients into the soil beneath
- Because they decompose, they actually become part of the soil which makes them part of my garden. Unlike tarps or non-decompostable material, I don’t have to go back and pull them out when I’m ready to plant in the Spring. Leaves mean less work for me so that makes leaves and I besties.
- During the Fall, which is when I’m usually prepping the garden for winter, fallen leaves are in abundance and readily available. This is a huge benefit!
- The biggest benefit of all? They are FREE!! Nature’s mulch!
Around our property, we have amazing trees that are just so beautiful! In Spring they begin to bloom, they provide substantial shade from hot heat in the Summer and their leaves turn vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange in the Fall. Then, those leaves drop and cover our entire property in a blanket of leaves. I use leaves as cover in my garden mainly because: (a) they need to be removed from some parts of the property since they’ll smother out grass growth if left and (b) they’re a completely free source of cover for the garden. To me, it’s a total win-win!
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Last year, we went the route of raking the leaves up and transporting them to the garden where we simply dumped them whole and spread them around a bit. This led to a less than desirable outcome once a good brisk Fall wind came. We ended up with piles of leaves all around. Many of them blew into the chicken’s area next to the garden or blew outside the garden entirely.
This year, we are going to try out a handy new contraption that my husband’s uncle gave him. It’s a leaf vacuum! It’s one of the craziest looking things. A vacuum. . . .for leaves?! Husband says that it’s going to suck the leaves up, mulch them inside the bag and we can dump the bag into the garden. Mulching helps them to start decomposing faster so they’ll stay put in the garden vs. catching a breeze and relocating themselves. Therefore, this weekend, the Frugal Virginia Farmhouse people will be vacuuming. Outside. I also picked up this set of Leaf Claws for my son to use when running around creating piles of leaves for us to hit with the leaf vacuum. Really, I just thought they looked cool and wanted to make sure I had something to pull him into the fun while Dad & I are looking crazy pushing this vacuum looking contraption all over the property! I’ll be sure to take some good pictures this weekend or let y’all know how it worked!
Do you prep your garden for winter? If so, what methods do you use? Ever used a leaf vacuum?!