Why I mulch my garden in the late fall

Clara and I have been making it a priority to get outside every day in the afternoons, even though it now requires a warm jacket and boots. That burst of fresh air is a necessary jolt after a busy morning and a reminder to slow down, breathe, and tune out the noise for a bit.

She skips around the yard, chasing the hens or petting the cats. Just yesterday I found her standing by the now-empty carrot patch, softly singing a little song. “I’m singing to the seeds.” she said, when I curiously asked her what she was doing. Somehow she remembered my suggestion from this past spring, when she was impatient for her carrots to grow.

While Clara plays (or sings), I prep the place for the coming winter. The garden has been my main focus this week as I know a freeze could happen any time.

All the plants are pulled and tossed on the compost, save for the kale which keeps producing and two hardy parsley plants.

Why I mulch my garden in early fall #gardening #tips

Why I mulch my garden in the late fall

I don’t turn the soil or really do much of anything to the garden in the fall, save a good mulch with leaves. This simply means heaping leaves about 6 inches deep on all the raised beds. It’s like adding another blanket to your bed when the cold comes. Soil needs to be protected from exposure, too, and leaves are the best for the job.

When precious garden soil is tucked away for the winter under a carpet of leaves, a few things happen.

  • The mulch helps control erosion. Winter winds and heavy rain in fall and spring can take their toll on unprotected soil.
  • It helps insulate perennials such as rhubarb, thyme, oregano, and garlic bulbs, too. All of those sleep in my garden in the winter.
  • The leaves provide free organic matter, breaking down and adding nutrients to the soil. I simply turn the leaves into the soil in the spring.

Why I mulch my garden in late fall

One last thought: don’t rake all of your leaves. Your homestead needs a little protection, too, whether it be lawn, flower beds or around a tree. As the cold sets in, don’t worry about chasing down every last leaf, instead leave them for ground protection.

And we are now ready for snow!

Do you rake and mulch in the fall?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I’m in sunny Perth, W. Australia and I mulch much the same time as you, albeit it’s spring ‘down under’ and I do it because of the extreme heat we endure every summer – it keeps the soil cooler! I only wish I could keep cooler as well.
    I must say Aimee I do enjoy reading about your doings in a country I’d like to visit one day.

  2. This is a great tip, Aimee! I cringed when I saw my husband blowing all of the leaves out of our beds last weekend and of course he couldn’t hear me yelling at him to stop over the noisy leaf blower. :-/ Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me this weekend, especially to cover up the garlic. Your kale looks beautiful, btw!

  3. Your little one is adorable! Can’t wait till we have a wonderful garden like yours to mulch….right now were making do with some pots!

  4. Additional reasons to mulch: To feed the worms which will feed your soil which will feed your garden. Watch worms at work for one month and what they will do with your leaves: http://goo.gl/78kzwl

    To keep compromise with your husband, consider getting him a leaf mulcher. Keep your valuable organic matter on your own land replenish it.

  5. Agree that mulch is very helpful in terms of protecting the soil and also provides organic nutrients to the soil. It is a win-win situation.

  6. I can see why mulching in the fall is a good idea. I like your metaphor of adding another blanket to your bed when it gets cold. Gardens need “blankets” as well. This is especially true if it helps stop erosion.

  7. Oliver Worker says

    Hey Aimee,

    Sounds interesting! Would love to try this soon with the kids as well. Your little ones looks having fun. Thanks for the tips.


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