Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry

Over-Winter Garden Preparations

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I’ve got two garden beds. The first one is about 5×7 and the other one is 4×8. The first plot held the bulk of my summer plants: Tomatoes, hot peppers, cucumber and cantelope. After those plants came out in the fall, I put some garlic in the ground to sit out the winter and get a jump start on the spring growing season. The second plot held my fall crops: Carrots, spinach and lettuce. Well, it held the seeds I planted for those things, since most of the seeds didn’t even sprout.

This picture shows my first plot. Almost all the plants had been pulled out after the first frost, and the bed covered over in straw. Garlic is planted along the right side.

This picture shows my second plot the day after our first frost. The lettuce has already been harvested but the carrots are still going strong.

The poor performance of my gardens this first year has prompted me to start preparations early and to try and get my soil into better shape. The pH levels seem fine but vital nutrients are definitely lacking. Fixing this deficiency is necessary to prevent poor performance like I had last summer. Also, adding a little bit of soil volume and improving drainage would be good.

For the first plot, I’ve put a few shovelfuls of compost where the garlic is growing. I don’t want to put any heavy fertilizers or something like mushroom soil down in this bed for fear of burning the garlic. As shown in the picture above I covered it over with straw and will add compost to it in the spring.

The second plot is empty for the winter so I can be a little bit more aggressive in making amendments. I plan to get a few bags of mushroom soil to mix in before the weather gets really cold. Mushroom soil, though the exact recipe changes from manufacturer to manufacturer, tends to be a little bit too “hot” for many plants. It’s dense in nutrient salts which can “burn” small plants and seeds, sometimes killing them outright.  Instead, mushroom soil should either be diluted out with other soil mixes, or it should be set out over winter to “cure” it and let the dense nutrients flow out into the surrounding areas.

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Author: Andrew Whitworth

I'm a software engineer from Philadelphia PA. Sometimes I like to go out to my garden, or step into my kitchen and make a really big mess of things.

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