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Putting raised beds to bed for the winter?

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Putting raised beds to bed for the winter?

Post  auggiesmom on 10/26/2010, 11:47 am

hi everyone,
Winter is fast approaching and wondering what to do with my SFG beds? i have 8 8x4 beds, and am lazy!

should i grow cover crops? add compost? compost only in spring?

I think the winter will be a cold, snowy one here in N. Idado.

I like the idea of cover crops but don't like the idea of hand tilling them under. Also, i think we aren't supposed to till in the beds anyway? kills all the good stuff going on underground? Rolling Eyes


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Re: Putting raised beds to bed for the winter?

Post  Icemaiden on 10/26/2010, 12:50 pm


I only have two 4x4 beds so not a huge problem for me.

One bed has various herbs, garlic, and strawberry plants (and a few vacant squares which will get more strawberry plants in the spring) so I covered the whole lot with a sort of cold frame add-on.

The other one has a few carrots and parsnips still lingering. As soon as they are pulled I will cover that bed with agricultural fleece/acrylic to keep some of the rain off.
Job done! Very Happy


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Re: Putting raised beds to bed for the winter?

Post  Chopper on 10/26/2010, 5:44 pm

@auggiesmom wrote:hi everyone,
Winter is fast approaching and wondering what to do with my SFG beds? i have 8 8x4 beds, and am lazy!

should i grow cover crops? add compost? compost only in spring?

There are people doing cover crops, but I would not choose to do that because of the tilling as you said. Awkward in a raised bed. If you add compost now it will probably settle by spring, which is fine, just know you may want to add more but nutrient-wise I think either time is fine. The main thing you want to be aware of is if you leave your beds uncovered, they will welcome any weed/tree/other seed that may go flying by and will provide it with the perfect growing medium. So unless you want a maple farm among your lettuces it would be worth covering with something.

My two cents - probably worth about half that. Very Happy


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Our beds

Post  ander217 on 10/27/2010, 8:57 am

We have several 4' x 10' beds and as they get emptied from this year's plants we cover them with a layer of composted rice hulls and manure. We hope that by spring they will be ready to plant as is. That mixture isn't as soft as MM but it still doesn't require tilling or digging in. If needed we can scatter some bone meal and a little epsom salts over it when planting.


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Putting my beds to sleep for the winter

Post  SuzieQ on 11/9/2010, 9:19 pm

Hello Square Foot Gardeners!
Does anyone have any suggestions on what works best for my raised beds for the winter months? I have cleaned off all my beds. Does any one suggest to cover with straw or leaves? Our winters here n South Dakota are cold and windy and we have considerable amounts of snowfall. I so wish it were spring all over again. I appreciate any ideas what has worked best for my fellow square foot gardeners.

thanks SuzieQ

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Re: Putting raised beds to bed for the winter?

Post  Furbalsmom on 11/10/2010, 12:36 am

SuzieQ, if you have substantial winds, and try to cover with straw or leaves, will they remain in the the garden?
You might want to consider 6 mil poly, in clear and be sure to use something along the perimeter to prevent the poly from blowing away. You might use rocks, bricks, branches or other heavy items that you can place all along the edges. In addition to keeping the garden free of debris and seeds, the poly will allow your SFG bed to warm earlier in the Spring. Good Luck!

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Re: Putting raised beds to bed for the winter?

Post  WJB on 11/10/2010, 11:30 am

Just bought 6mil plastic. But black. Is clear better to cover for winter? Haven't used the black yet, so I'm sure Lowes would be happy to see me bring it back tomorrow and trade for clear...if there is a difference...

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Re: Putting raised beds to bed for the winter?

Post  quiltbea on 11/10/2010, 12:48 pm

I'm one of the gardeners who is using a cover crop this year. I'll let you know how that works for next year.

I'm reading Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich and find it fascinating. With SFG it should work well for a weedless method. You do NOT dig down into your soil but spread your organic soil amendments lightly on top (like bloodmeal, bonemeal, etc), then add an inch or so of good compost and mulch right on top and let nature work ii in gradually.

If you sow a fall cover crop, you cut it down to the ground in the spring, do not dig it or till it. The roots will expire below and make great channels for distribution of soil components and rain.

The idea is that the dormant weed seeds embedded in the soil are brought to the top with tilling or double digging (also a no-no) and allowed to germinate and spread. If you don't want that to happen, just cut your cover crops off at soil level and leave the greens to die. The greens left on top do not rob your soil of nitrogen but rather add nitrogen as they decompose. You plant your seeds or transplants right thru any compost or natural mulch like straw, grasses, weed-free hay, that's on top of the soil.

Here's some winter rye growing in one of my beds with rosemary, lemon balm, and marigolds. It might be better to sow a cover crop that dies back itself from winter's cold than winter rye, but I'll let you know next spring how this worked for me.

Weedless Gardening is a good book. I plan to use its wisdom based on what Mother Nature does normally. It's a very informative. I recommend it to any gardener as very good reading.


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