As the vibrant colors of summer fade away, it's time to start thinking about how to care for your raised garden bed in the fall. While the cooler temperatures and shorter days may signal a slowdown in your gardening activities, there are still important tasks to be done to ensure the health and productivity of your raised garden beds. In the last post, we have explored some tips and tricks for preparing your raised garden bed for autumn.[10 Tasks in Autumn-To-Do List for Your Metal Raised Garden Bed (Ⅰ)]Here we continue to discuss about the Autumn To-Do List for a metal raised garden bed.
Task6: Amend and Nourish Soil
Should you empty your raised garden beds for the winter? No, just leave the soil, but continue to amend it over time to replace the nutrients that have been used up by the plants and leached out by watering.
When the soil is cleared of plants, the next step in preparing a raised bed garden for winter is to assess the soil level. With new gardens in particular, the soil can sink in the first year. Add a few inches of fresh soil if needed. Even if your soil level stays steady, also add an inch or two of well-rotted compost.
Compost helps fortify and nourish your soil for growing the best plants possible in the spring. If you think your soil needs a fresh infusion of garden fertilizer, that's another task to include on your list for what to do with raised garden beds in winter.
Adding organic matter to your soil would be a logical next step. If you add organic matter in your soil, just top dress it. During wintertime, the natural cycles of freezing and thawing will help work that material in. When you go to plant, that added material is going to get added and incorporated into your soil as well.
Task7: Put Away Stakes and Plant Supports
Tomato cages, cucumber trellises, stakes, basically anything that’s not attached to your raised bed needs to be put away. Remove, wipe off, and put away all plant supports and store them in the garden shed over the winter, so they don’t rot or become damaged over the winter. Sharpen blades, oil hinges, and replace any worn-out parts if needed. Proper tool maintenance will prolong their lifespan and ensure they are ready for use in the upcoming gardening season.
If you have portable raised beds, move them into a shed or garage for the winter. That protects them from the winter elements and helps materials last longer. You can also tuck them next to a garage and cover them with a tarp. Keep the tarp anchored with rocks, bricks or wood to keep it from blowing away during winter storms.
Task 8: Protect Your Garden Bed from Pests and Frost
Fall is a great time for pests like rodents and insects to take up residence in your garden bed. To prevent this, make sure to remove any debris from around your garden bed and keep it clean. You can also use row covers or netting to protect your plants from pests.
As temperatures drop, consider covering your raised garden bed with a frost blanket or row cover during chilly nights. This extra layer of protection can help extend the growing season and prevent frost-sensitive plants from wilting or dying.
Task 9: Check for Slugs and Add Worms
This is especially useful if you’re continuing to grow in covered raised beds through the autumn months. Be on the lookout for slugs. They are prevalent in the fall, especially after a mild, wet season. Check the nooks and crannies of your raised garden beds to see if they’re hanging out, lying in wait until they’re hungry for your crops.
Spring is traditionally the time to add worms to the soil, but fall works, too. As long as the temperature is above 32F and the ground isn’t frozen you can drop a big old box of live worms on the soil and allow them to work their magic.
Task 10: Add season extenders
If you are extending your growing season with hoop tunnels, for example, make sure your hoops and brackets are ready for frost warnings, so you can set up quickly, and your floating row cover is folded up somewhere where it’s easy to grab. When preparing raised beds for winter, make sure the brackets inside your raised bed are intact and ready for the pex pipe “hoops”. Feed into them when the weather starts to turn. Floating row cover is at the ready, as well, with spring clamps on hand to secure the fabric in place to prevent it from blowing away.
If you’ve packed up the vegetable garden, you may also want to have these items handy in a shed or garage for early spring planting. One of the benefits of gardening in raised beds, especially metal raised bed, is the soil warms up sooner in the spring. Have plant protectors handy for when you plant cool-weather spring veggies, such as peas, kale, root crops like beets, etc.
Although the cooler weather may reduce the need for frequent watering, it's important to monitor soil moisture levels in your raised garden bed. Plants still require consistent hydration to thrive, especially during dry periods. Check the soil regularly and water deeply when necessary, ensuring that water reaches the root zone.
Maintaining your raised garden bed in the fall is essential for its long-term health and productivity. These garden chores may seem tedious, but you will appreciate the time spent learning how to prepare a raised garden bed in autumn. By fulfilling the tasks above, you can ensure that your garden bed remains vibrant and productive throughout the autumn season. With proper care and attention, your raised garden bed will be ready to thrive once again.