This exercise will differ greatly from country to country, because of climate variations and because of the growing choices that we have selected through out the year. However we will look at the basic requirements needed to replenish our raised bed, an exercise in maintenance and just good gardening habits, which are needed to bring our raised bed back to its original quality and shape. For those of us, who were growing vegetables throughout the year, we will seriously need to look at this restoration task, otherwise the following year will be not be as productive as the one just gone. As vegetables are by their nature energy sapping and demanding on the soil, it is imperative that we restore the soil to the rich nutrient state it was before planting. We can achieve this easily and efficiently by following a few important steps, that are not overly difficult but never the less imperative.
For vegetable growers;
Just like we mentioned above, this job is one of the most discussed by gardeners of all sorts and the main topic of discussion is, do we plant vegetables in the autumn to overwinter and produce throughout the winter and into early spring or do we cleanout the beds and start all over again next spring. Again depending on where we reside and the the local climate, the options will vary, depending on our circumstances. The veggies in question that prevail are Broccoli, Kale, Brussels Sprouts and certain varieties of Cabbages, as these are able to survive in relative cold climates, the upshot of this is they become sweeter and tastier as a result of being exposed to frosts and harsher climates. The way out of this predicament is to have seperate raised beds for the different varieties of veggies and this will offer a suitable solution to this question.
Replenishing the beds;
This task is a must and requires a little work unfortunately, but its worth the effort and the rewards will come in the most unsuspecting of ways. Listed below are some steps to assist and help with this task
- Remove all green leaves and plant material
- Add some well rotted compost
- Feed the bed with organic fertilizer
- Fork in some farmyard manure
- Add some extra topsoil if required (subsidence)
- Cover with plastic (optional)
- Cover with leaves (optional )
These steps will replenish the raised beds with the required nutrients and elements for the following year and should guarantee a productive and fruitful yield year on year. Some gardeners cover the raised beds with a sheet of plastic and the reason being, it will stop the soil from compaction due to rainfall or heavy snow. Some people cover the beds with some sheets newspaper and then cover with a layer of leaves, which are then watered to prevent them blowing away. The newspaper will decompose in no time is a useful barrier for the weed problem These methods will enhance the soil quality and will prevent any weeds from getting established over the winter. As leaves are organic and hold moisture, when they eventually breakdown, they will further fertilize the beds. The other benefits of these methods are, in times of frost and cold weather, the soil will not freeze solid and this will allow the earthworms to further improve the quality of the raised bed soil.
Non-vegetable raised beds winter maintenance;
Compared to the vegetable raised bed maintenance, this task is a lot less labourious and straight forward. If we had only been growing flowers in these beds, the only important issue is to top-up with some extra compost or fertiliser. These beds are not as energy demanding as the veggie beds and thus require little or no maintenance. Assuming we had been growing summer bedding plants all year, we will notice as the days get shorter and the nights get colder, that our flowers are beginning to fade and lose their vibrancy.
This is normal and is natures way of telling us that winter is coming, so we need to prepare for the upcoming seasons. A great idea is to plant some spring bulbs and this will give us a welcome splash of colour in early spring and also tells us we are nearing winters end. Normally snowdrops are one of the first flowers of spring, closely followed by crocus. Afterwards if we wish we can have some daffodils and follow that with a selection of tulip bulbs. These will flower in rotation and will provide an added dimension to our outdoor enjoyment in the early months of the year. I hope that this article was of some benefit and if you have any questions, feel free to use the comments box below.
Best wishes on your gardening adventures.
” There are no gardening mistakes,
– Janet Kilburn Phillips. “