To have a healthy garden next year – take care of your soil now
This is great time to dig in compost made through the summer months into your soil
Good Soil = Healthy Plants
Annual Rye makes a great cover crop to feed and protect your soil

Wintertime.  There I said it.  I always hate thinking about that time of year – especially right now when the fall weather has turned beautiful here in Ohio.  So…instead of thinking about the cold winter months ahead, I choose to stay positive and think instead of next spring and summer’s garden. Actually, much like a great lawn – what you do now and in the coming months can make a huge difference in the success of next year’s garden.  Here are four things you can do NOW to really jump-start your 2013 garden.


Although contrary to what we normally do – which is compost everything we can – we don’t compost our pepper and tomato plants from the garden.  We actually throw them on our burn pile and burn them with fallen sticks, etc.  Why?  Just too much chance for any plant disease to get passed through to the soil for next year.  In addition – the odd green or damaged fruit still on the plants, along with their thousand of seeds, are something we prefer to keep away from our compost pile.


Don’t let those weeds overwinter in your garden.  Clean them out now and prevent weeds from going to seed, digging deeper roots – and doubling your weeding efforts next year.


Chopped leaves and compost are the stars here.  Dig in generous amounts of compost to your raised beds or garden.  And start collecting those falling leaves now!  If you don’t have access to your own – make a trip around local neighborhoods and collect the bags or piles of leaves that accumulate at the curb.  We use our push mower to shred the leaves.  Then, we dig in generous amounts to our raised beds to decompose.  Even better, use the leaves as a mulch on your beds over the winter – helping to keep valuable soil from eroding.  Just dig into the bed’s soil in the spring.  For an even better mulch – try #4.

Make sure you clean your raised beds and garden rows of all weeds – don’t let them overwinter and go to seed


Just like the “big farmers” do – our gardens and raised beds benefit greatly from a cover crop.  We have already begun to plant our cover crops in the rows we have cleaned out.  We use annual rye – a great choice to help add lots of organic matter and nutrients to your soil – and also protect it over the winter months from leaching all of the nutrients out of your bare soil.

A good cover crop will dig deeply into your soil with their roots.  This adds valuable organic material to your soil, along with adding plant loving nitrogen to the soil as the plants break down.  Then you can turn under your cover crop in the spring before planting.  We get a lot of questions on the cover crops – especially – “Won’t they become weeds?”  As long as you use an annual rye – and make sure to not let the grass go to seed, and turn over in the early spring –  you should have no worries.

All four of these steps are great ways to ensure a healthy, productive garden next year, and without having to use harsh chemicals and fertilizers.

If you would like to follow along through the coming year and receive our weekly DIY and Gardening Posts, be sure to sign up to follow our blog via email, Twitter or Facebook in the side columns of our blog.  – Jim and Mary, Old World Garden Farms


27 thoughts on “4 Easy Steps To Prepare The Garden This Fall For Next Year

  • September 1, 2015 at 12:08 am

    Hello, I live in Minnesota we also have a short growing season but its productive! I have an organic garden and use natural ingredients to repel insects, I collect seeds and plant them in January or February indoors, than transfer to a outdoor greenhouse when weather permits. Get the plants in as soon as weather permits.. Test your soil to see what you may need to add in the spring, only add natural and organic ingredients to enhance your soil. I am out on Pinterest Dawn Nelson if you care to follow me I have garden tips on my pages. Good luck

  • January 1, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Just moved to Maine,bought a small farm. I know very little about gardening. The people that owned previous to me had a great fenced in garden space. I had the soil all tilled under in Oct. what do I do now? Should I start my plants from seeds or buy seedlings? Don’t want to use any chemicals,how do I handle pests and diseases? I believe Maine has a pretty short growing season. Where’s the best place to seek advice/info?
    Thank you!

  • October 18, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Hi! Love the information you post in your blog!
    We recently bought a home with 11 acres. The gentleman who lived here before us cash rented his land to a farmer who planted beans. My husband & I want to use about an acre of this land to grow a good sized garden next year. Should we be concerned about the type of herbicides/pesticides/insecticides this farmer might have used?


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