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Tips and Tricks: Winter garden prep

As the winter season is approaching and our growing season is coming to an end, it was time for Community Roots to start planning on how we were to best prep our growing space throughout winter. We have been blessed this year with some of the best volunteers as they have helped us sustain our new composting bins, build miniature hothouses for a longer growing season, and most importantly getting our gardening beds prepped and ready for spring to arrive! We wanted to share with you how we get our raised beds and gardening space prepped and ready.

Step 1: Planting your cover crop

There are a lot of benefits to planting your gardens with cover crops in between growing seasons. Some of the benefits we are able to get are preventing soil erosion, conserving the soil's moisture, smothering weeds, and so much more! It is important to think of caring for your soil just as we do our plants because the health of the soil is vital to the successful growing seasons.

Late this September we planted buckwheat not only because it grows quickly but its root system allows phosphorous to be added into the soil and ready for the next plant to use! This is a commonly used crop because it often outcompetes weeds, attracts pollinators, and only takes 70-80 days to mature. It is important to keep in mind that you need to mow down the crop before it seeds (approximately 10 days after it flowers) or else it may become a competitive plant (weed) in future growing seasons. We were able to get our buckwheat mowed down thanks to the help of the Kenyon Archon Society (pictured below). This dedicated group of individuals has really taken it upon themselves to help Community Roots continue to grow and we could not be more thankful for their help!

Step 2: Add compost layers

Once we were able to get our cover crop mowed down, we covered the bed with the trimmings to be composted into the soil. As soon as this step is done, we move on to adding compost into our beds. Adding this medium onto the soil will allow our garden beds to be rich with nutrients and ready to grow healthy and happy crops for the next growing season. You can learn more about starting your own compost with our helpful hints, Here.

Step3: Covering Beds With Straw

We decided this year we would blanket straw on top of the compost in the beds. We liked the idea of adding straw because this is an effective method of holding in moisture along with helping reduce competitive plants growing where we do not want them to. Straw also decomposes fairly easily and will continue to add nutrients into the soil as we start planting crops in the spring season.

Garden with us!

Be a part of our gardening fun! We accept everyone of all skill levels and provide most gardening tools and beds to help you get your own garden started. If this is something that interests you, please feel free to contact us via email at Our gardening seasons typically begin in April and run through October, or until the growing season is coming to an end.

"Flowers have their fragrance, winter has its handful of memories"- Lin Huiyin

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