When considering when to start your garden, tradition might tell you that Autumn and Winter are desolate seasons, and your gardening hobby has to be tabled until the Spring. However when you are planting in raised garden beds, nothing could be further from the truth. No matter where you live, these late seasons still have many advantages to offer when it comes to starting and maintaining your garden. In fact, Winter is the very best time to prepare your garden for an abundant season in the Spring.
1. Cultivating The Perfect Ecosystem
While easy to build and seemingly simple to the naked eye, every raised garden bed is actually a complex microclimate, teeming with life in a rich ecosystem deep within the soil. More than just the earthworms we all know and love, the branches, twigs, leaves and other plant waste in the soil are also breaking down over time, and returning vital nutrients to the soil that plants can later use to grow healthy and strong. In a previous blog, we discussed the Hugelkultur Method, wherein yard waste and other organic material are layered inside the raised garden bed, to take up space and provide essential nutrients for your plants as they decompose. Since it takes about 4 months for organic waste to break down, the ideal time to begin preparing your raised garden beds using the Hugelkultur method is actually in the Winter. Beginning the Hugelkultur process now allows time for the branches, leaves, and other organic matter at the bottom of the raised bed to decompose and return essential elements to your soil. This means that by the time Spring rolls around, your raised garden soil is at its optimal nutrient capacity and is ready for you to begin planting.
2. Sustainable Materials
Collecting the materials to fill your raised garden bed can take some time, and a successful Hugelkultur system uses quite a bit of yard waste in order to fill the raised garden bed. There is no better time than the Fall and Winter to collect the materials to fill your garden beds, as the Hugelkultur method uses branches, sticks, and piles of fallen leaves as well as other yard waste to fill the bed. The Fall and Winter seasons are the perfect time to set up Vego Garden raised garden beds as you can take advantage of the seasons and sustainably repurpose your piles of raked leaves and broken branches and twigs from trimmed trees to sustainably fill the beds. Keep in mind that collecting the volume of yard waste needed can take some time, which is another reason why getting started in the Fall or Winter is preferred.
3. Schedules and Supply Chains
Another advantage of starting your garden in the Winter is avoiding scheduling conflicts and supply chain issues. Landscaping companies are often busiest in the Spring, during their peak season, and they may be difficult and costly to schedule if you require assistance clearing yard waste, or assembling and filling your raised garden beds. Taking advantage of their more open schedule in the Fall and Winter means you’re more likely to secure reasonable rates, and start your gardening project on the ideal time schedule. Preparing your garden in the Winter also negates concerns about supply chain issues that have disrupted the global economy during the last two years. Buying compost, mulch, and other gardening supplies will be easier now than it will be in the peak season this coming Spring.
4. Natural Mood Booster
With the colder seasons sometimes come the Winter Blues, but staying active in your garden is a great way to naturally boost your mood. Every gardener knows that gardening provides great exercise, tending to your raised garden beds and plants, but gardening can also provide a therapy of sorts. Moments to connect with nature, breathe in the fresh air and sunshine, and precious time with loved ones in the garden all help cultivate mindfulness that keeps you grounded during the shorter days. Gardening in the winter does not have to be a barren season, as there are also many varieties of vegetables to tend in the Winter, especially if you install a cover to shield your plants from frost. Here in zone 9a, where Vego Garden is headquartered, this 60-70 degree season is the ideal time for cole crops (members of the mustard family like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi.) You can also start planting seeds this season for crops including garlic, lettuce, carrots, beets, turnips and collards.
5. Decorate For The Holiday Season
No matter whether you are using the Fall and Winter seasons to prepare the perfect Hugelkultur, or if you’re taking advantage of your area’s seasonal harvest, you can always add some pizzazz to your raised garden with seasonal decorations. Because of their durability, Vego Garden raised garden beds are perfect for decorating, as you can easily change the decor from season to season. Consider adding a friendly scarecrow to the garden, or trimming the edges with an edible garland for the birds. You can even decorate the surface of the bed with tape or paint. The possibilities are endless for both the inside and the outside of your garden this Fall and Winter.