Putting the Garden to Bed–Wild Ones Style
The best time to get ready for next year is now.
1.Get rid of any invasives–like this Vinca that keeps trying to make its way into my woodland garden. It forms a thick evergreen mat and would love to colonize my woodland garden.
2.As you remove some of these plants, you might bring up hibernating insects like this ladybug and spider. Tuck them back in the best you can, so they can do their good work next year.
3. Put some leaves around your plants. Skip mechanically shredding leaves because whole leaves are a better food source for soil organisms. Animal shredders like sowbugs and earthworms do the work of breaking large pieces up. Fungi decompose the woodier bits, which is good because you want to feed your fungi. Fungi form a symbiotic relationship with your plants; they deliver nutrients, water, and even pathogen protection to the plants’ roots while the plant delivers carbohydrates to the fungi. Shredded leaves are eaten up by bacteria very quickly, which means shredders and fungi don’t get a food source. All of the plant material will add organic matter, helping the soil percolate water and hold onto it. The more organic matter, the better the water holding capacity.
4.Enjoy the beauty of the plants (and realize that you are feeding many animals though letting everything stay standing. If you do need to trim down anything, you can place stems at the base of your plants. The stems will be invisible and will provide habitat and contribute to soil formation).
We created a sign to help communicate why we are allowing gardens to stand through the winter. Please feel free to download, print, and hang in your garden. It’s a PDF: No Fall Clean Up PNG:
That’s it! Have fun and enjoy this special time.