What does it mean to put your beds to bed in the fall?
There’s an old gardening saying that says once the blooms and harvest of summer are over, it’s time to put the beds to bed. Garden beds, that is. Simply put, that garden bed is the key to having great plants. Here in southern Oregon, once the crops are done for the year and the temperature begins to cool down, adding a maintenance layer of compost can be a great way to help prepare the soil for the coming spring. Here are some easy-to-follow fall mulching tips:
- Add a 1” to 3” layer of Rogue Fine Compost directly on top of the ground. If your landscaping includes evergreen perennials, trees or shrubs, make sure to avoid covering their root area or mulching near the trunk. In the fall, there’s no need to dig or mix in the compost. The compost will work its way into the soil throughout the cooler months, adding important nutrients and bacteria into the mix.
- Now’s also the time to add bone meal, rock phosphate or any dry organic amendments to the soil. They will slowly break down and provide nutrients just in time for spring planting. Fall is also a great time to add lime to lawns and vegetable beds, helping to raise the pH.
- Mulching using straw, leaves or bark can also be done in the fall. Covering the soil helps reduce compaction due to rainfall and melting snow while keeping weeds at bay. One thing to remember, though, is that plant-based mulches hold in moisture. So avoid covering plants that need good drainage if you’re using any of these materials. When spring comes, if you still have a thick layer or leaves or other mulches that haven’t decomposed, be sure and rake them up. The soil warms up faster — ready for the new spring crop — if the soil is bare.
- When you are doing the fall yard clean-up, make sure to use your yard debris roll cart for any plants that had mildew, black spot, insect infestations or other diseases. These problems can live on in the soil and create trouble for plants in the next growing season unless completely removed. Make sure to keep them out of the compost pile too.