Compost and Build Soil

Find a balance between cleaning up the fallen leaves and maintaining a habitat for insects and wildlife in your garden. Leaf litter is important for overwintering eggs of caterpillars, Beatles and other beneficial and predatory insects. During the growing season, these bugs can protect your plants from harmful bugs, feed baby birds and condition and improve the soil by eating organic matter and pooping out waste that feeds microorganisms and makes nutrients available for your plants. The tunnels they create aerate the soil and improve water infiltration and water holding capacity. Leave some of the leaves… especially in your perrenial garden beds.

Matted piles of leaves left on the lawn, however, will smother the grass beneath – so collect these and add them to your compost pile, tumbler or bin! Use the cold weather months to add to and mix your compost pile so that you will have a homemade, high quality, living soil conditioner to add to your gardens in the spring.

Review, Assess, Plan and Build

When most of the plants are going to sleep for the winter, now is the time to step back and determine how things went this season. Should anything be moved for next year? Are views being block by plants that are getting too big? Are large plants shading out smaller ones? Are beds or guilds becoming inconvenient for the way you want to use your space? Do you want to add anything new for next year?

Now is a good time to start or expand a no-till, no-dig garden bed or area.

Some of the projects I’ve decided to work on this December are:

  • Start a new bed for vining plants that overtook an annual veggie bed this year.
  • Gathering materials for a new wattle fence that will surround the new bed.
  • Build a sturdy tomato tower for indeterminate heirloom cherry tomatoes – which always manage to collapse any support I’ve ever tried.
  • Create permanent, pretty plant labels for the perennial trees and shrubs in the gardens.
  • Visit online nurseries and sign up for the catalogs to be mailed to you.