Sow a Cover Crop & Mulch Before Winter

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 22,276
    In this video, Kathy Jentz, Editor/Publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine, demonstrates how to winterize a vegetable garden including how to sow a cover crop and mulch.

    Kathy Jentz: Hi I am Kathy Jentz, we are talking about how to winterized your vegetable garden, and now we are going to do mulching and cover crops for your winter beds. So we are just clearing out the last plants from our eggplant bed. So we will get that into the compost pile and what we were planning to do with this bed is a cover crop of rye. So that will introduce nutrients and nitrogen back into the soil during the winter time and next early spring it will just rip out the rye and plant which crops you would like in the bed. So, we are smoothing it out, roughing up the soil just a little bit to get some traction for the seed and we have our bag of rye seed here. And this will be pretty easy just need to scatter it and do a pretty good coverage. So no need to make neat rows, half of this of course will be eaten by the birds but you will put plenty of seeds down, so it won't matter if the birds get over half of them. So we get a nice coverage and then we will come back and water this in a little bit and water in the next few days and they should have sprouting within 5-7 days. So that's have we do our cover crops. Now we are at our strawberry bed, we have cleaned out any weeds and debris. We want to clean out any dead parts of the plant as well to get it ready for winter. Anything diseased you want to throw away in your municipal compost, not in on your own compost pile. So we have a bale of straw we are going to mulch around the plants with this and you want to do a pretty thick layer, but avoid the crown of the plant, so you want to leave that clear so it can get some sun and rain during the winter time. But you are laying the straw around to block any weeds and other winter seedlings from coming up around the strawberries. You are also providing a nice winter blanket so they won't get frozen should you have a really very bad freeze in your area. So, you have cleared out this big bed of melons and we are ready to give it a nice mulch and put it to bed for the winter. We have two different mulches we are using today, one is a Leafgro Soil Conditioner and this is great for breaking up particles, if you have got heavy clay soil as we do in middle Atlantic area and we are also using a nice pine fines soil conditioner. This is all organic, so once we work in our organic Leafgro, we will put on top of it these pine fines, which are really small hardwood pieces from pine trees shredded up. You don't want to use the large hardwood mulch pieces, because those actually pull out nitrogen from your soil and will do nothing for the condition of it, at least for the next five to ten years. If you have compost the you have made yourself, feel free to add that at this point as well. If you have aged manure, that's also a great thing to add to your vegetable beds at this time of year. So, adding a final top dressing of pine fines to keep back any weeds in the winter for your vegetable beds. Next we will talk about creating a new garden bed.