Prepping Open Raised Beds for Winter

Open Raised Garden Bed

Open Raised Garden Bed

We’re taking advantage of good weather to get a lot of garden beds prepared for winter.  We’re loosening them up with a broadfork, pulling out most of the weeds, shaping them up neatly, and covering them with a thick layer of leaves.

Raked Smooth, Ready for Winter

Raked Smooth, Ready for Winter

I don’t use cover crops to protect the beds through the winter.  Cover crops are a good approach, as garden soil should not be left uncovered and bare, but I have an abundance of leaves, and covering the garden with them is a lot easier than planting another crop.   A bed all raked smooth as this one is will be ready to plant in the spring.  All we’ll have to do is rake back the leaves, which we can leave in the paths to break down and also act as a weed mulch.

Left – Done, Right – Not Done

Left – Done, Right – Not Done

Note the bed on the right, the one with the bucket.  It needs to be worked up, weeded, and re-shaped.

All Forked Up

All Forked Up

Here’s that bed after I worked it up with a broadfork and removed the weeds.

Shaped Up Bed

Shaped Up Bed

Here’s the same bed after it’s been shaped up and smoothed out using a five-tined cultivating hoe, an antique tool, that in my opinion should be made again, as it is so useful.

Tools

Tools

These are the four tools I use to work and shape my beds: a scoop shovel, a five-tined cultivating hoe, a broadfork, and a steel rake.

I maintain a large garden and the raised bed approach we use is working.  Our soil continues to improve and maintenance is in many ways a lot easier than it would be with a rototiller or any other more conventional approach.  From a sustainability aspect, using low technology and minimal outside inputs, I’m pretty sure this method ranks at or near the top of all home gardening systems.

Tags: , , ,

5 Responses to “Prepping Open Raised Beds for Winter”

  1. Barbara says:

    Thank you for the great show & tell about prepping your raised beds for winter!

  2. Tom Jackson says:

    Is it just me, or does your opinion that a five-tined cultivating hoe ‘should be made again’ evoke a movie line take, “If you make it, they will come for it”.

  3. Noel says:

    Actually, I would like very much to make that old tool. We can do it but I don’t know if the market will bear the price I’d have to charge, about $150.00. It would be worth it to those who know, but I’m not so sure I could sell the average gardener.

  4. Couldn’t a tiller do the same thing? Just asking?

  5. Noel says:

    I couldnt get a tiller into my raised beds if I wanted to. Tillers are getting a deservedly bad rap for destroying soil structure, creating a layer of hardpan under the soil surface, and encourgaing weed growth by chopping the weeds into pieces and bringing up seeds to sprout. But yes, you can use a tiller to break up soil.

Leave a Reply