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putting your raised garden beds to bed for Winter Toplef10putting your raised garden beds to bed for Winter 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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putting your raised garden beds to bed for Winter

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Swilliams0416
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Post  jcoulter77 Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:55 pm

How do you keep the weeds out of your raised garden beds from Fall to Spring.  I end up having to clean them out multiple times before spring planting and its getting really old.  Can you put plastic down to cover them or do you put a ton of hay or leaves or even newspaper?? on them so you don't have to keep cleaning them out until planting.  this is my third year and have been very blessed to have wonderful harvests every year just sick of the multiple weeding from Oct- April
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Post  sanderson Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:12 pm

Any cover to prevent wind-blown seeds from getting in the boxes.  Prevention of weeds is the easiest.  I have 2 small boxes that I allowed weeds to get a foot hold.  My fault.  I didn't keep the weeds pulled around them.  All the other beds are fine because there are no weeds near them.  Lots of wood chips around the lower ones and the table tops are 2 feet high so weeds are not a problem.  For my 2 problem beds, I will be wrapping them with 4 mil plastic covers to force the 100s of tiny seeds to sprout and get it over with.  Lesson learned.

What do others do?


Last edited by sanderson on Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:15 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post  Kelejan Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:13 pm

When I finish with a bed until Spring, I put down either wood chips or a thick layer of
fall leaves. I am sure newspaper will do the job as well.  Just do not leave the surface uncovered.

In the spring it is easy to clear out any weeds as they will mostly be long and straggly.
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Post  Scorpio Rising Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:16 pm

I am going to try the newspaper, I have tons of it. Had new boxes last year!
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Post  AtlantaMarie Sat Dec 05, 2015 1:00 am

I'm also trying newspaper this winter.  A nice thick layer, watered down...
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Post  yolos Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:20 am

I have used wheat straw, pine straw, shredded leaves, and cover/green manure crops.
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Post  Swilliams0416 Sun Dec 06, 2015 11:57 am

I cover with leaves piled high on the bed. I am also shake our coffee grinds down in them throughout the winter. I am hoping that will attract worms since we had very few. I have been checking and do see an increase in worms so far. If the leaves aren't broken down enough by March planting I will be adding them to my stock pile for compost.
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Post  littlejo Sun Dec 06, 2015 4:31 pm

I guess I do things a little differently. I planted garlic in most of the beds, around the edge. I planted carrots, beets, spinach, rutabagas, onions, collards, broccoli just before the heavy rains and the mosquitoes chased me indoors. It has cooled off some here, 60deg. for the high. I then planted all the other beds heavily  with mustard greens. We eat some, but, in spring I just plant what I want. Mustard helps with nematodes, is easy to pull or turn under,  won't live in the heat. In the spring, I  just pull or turn under just where I'm planting, the rest will just go away when it gets hot.
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Post  has55 Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:29 am

wood chips mulch works well,so do leaves. better if your can plant a green manure plant. sow extra heavy so it will kill the weeds. Then it will grow it roots deeply into your soil, bring nitorgen into the soil and is easy to cut down in the spring or turned over for easy composting.
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Post  jimmy cee Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:16 am

Having a bunch of plastic lattice hanging around I lay these on top of my bed, why ?  makes me feel good...
Keeps cats off and squirrels from digging up the place.
Before I lay them down I toss some winter seeds on, 1st batch was buckwheat, this wasn't good with our first frost 6 weeks ago. Then I added rye grain, holding up through some serious cold temp's.
Comes spring I can just turn it all under, a few perennial herbs stay in place.

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Post  sanderson Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:20 pm

Nice, Jimmy.

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Post  Scorpio Rising Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:42 pm

All cozy and tucked in for a long winter 's nap!


Last edited by Scorpio Rising on Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:42 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Forgot in)
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Post  sanderson Mon Nov 28, 2016 4:19 am

Who has finished putting their beds to sleep for the winter, and what did you do? I have 10 beds (74 sg ft) in winter crops and 7 (45 sq ft) asleep.

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Post  jimmy cee Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:17 am

I trimmed back some of my rye grain. Just wanted to see if it would regrow or die off. Temperatures are still quite moderate for this time of year.. One item need to remember is, these rye root systems are so thick that they need to be tended to at least one month before planting in spring.

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Post  sanderson Mon Nov 28, 2016 2:11 pm

In your 3rd photo, it looks like you are conducting a test? Part cut and part left as is?

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Post  jimmy cee Mon Nov 28, 2016 3:28 pm

sanderson wrote:In your 3rd photo, it looks like you are conducting a test?  Part cut and part left as is?

Yes..I want to see what happens to the cut part. I know the standing rye will stay green continuing to grow throughout winter, however very slowly . Last winter I dug up most of the roots, not wanting to disturb the mix, I sort of thought if it decayed then I could cut it all back in good time and let it all compost back in the mix..

I sure hope I explained that one ok....LOL...sometimes my thoughts get thought twisted like in tongue tied..
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Post  sanderson Mon Nov 28, 2016 3:34 pm

I gotcha

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Post  llama momma Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:04 pm

I like Mel's simple version. In the Fall mix in compost to bring the level back up. Cover with a tarp so weed seeds don't blow in,  and in my case it also prevents barn cats from seeking kitty litter textured toilets.
Take the tarps off in the Spring and plant. I find plenty of worms still working over the compost and the tarps help to warm up the beds for the worms.
 
Ok I'm lazy, I've tried topping off beds with leaves but found it annoying work to clear ten beds of leaves in Spring.  It is exciting just to rip off the tarps and plant seeds with no fuss. What I think Mel could have suggested is to use the compost thermometer to check the soil temperature first for perfect cool spring crops. You might recall he provides that planting chart with plant specific germination temperatures. Very helpful!
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Post  Scorpio Rising Mon Nov 28, 2016 8:27 pm

I do the same thing.  I top off all beds with compost.  But interesting to hear what you are experiencing, Jimmy!
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Post  jimmy cee Wed Nov 30, 2016 8:46 am

after reading, understanding a bit, and believing all the info of how grows the woods / forests, I would love to have beds made up with nothing but forests soil.
As a kid growing up in Manhattan, NYC we used to go into Central Park to get our fishing nightcrawlers.

CP at that time was a busy place as I am certain it's busier today, however very few people veered off the paths going into brush areas. We would go into heavy areas of woods and all we had to do is scrape away leaves, some dead, some fresh depending on the time of the year, there we always found huge ( and I do mean huge )  nightcrawlers.
Always brought home a cigar box full of them  ( cigar boxes then were plentiful, free and durable ).
Now looking back on this, I am realizing that was natures way of working. Even in a city of 8 million people, nestled within the middle there was this wonderful natural forest development going on year after year.

I doubt whether I'll be able to replicate woods / forest soil, however I keep thinking in that direction. I have tossed all my pesticides, herbicides, and commercial fertilizers. Have not used any for 2 seasons and notice no ill affects.  I hung up my electric rototiller on the wall and it's staying there.
Netting is being used to keep bad bugs away..and I am noticing bugs that I never seen before, hopefully these are those good bugs waiting for prey.

On a short note...I used to keep those cigar boxes full of nightcrawlers in our fridge. Once, ((( and it was the last time I used the fridge for nightcrawlers ))), I forgot they were in there until the smell appeared..
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