Left: Compost bin - Top Right: Row planted with a cover crop of sugar snap peas - Bottom Right: GFP Staff, Dellen Ross watering a raised garden bed planted with cool weather crops
Now that cooler temperatures are finally coming to Central Louisiana, with some beautiful fall days finally here, it's time to think about winterizing the garden. The last of those great peppers and tomatoes are looking pretty good right now because they made it through the heat of August, September, and October this year! But they will only last until that first hard freeze. Leave them as long as you can. For everything else, here are a few tips to help guide you.
1. Clean out all the old annual plants.
2. Although the vines and bushes will eventually die over the course of the winter, cleaning them out now can be a good start to a good compost pile whose organic matter will give you a good garden start in the spring.
3. The heat from a compost pile will help kill harmful diseases and pests that have been so plentiful in our neck of the woods because of the mild winter we had last year. A good mix of "greens and browns" makes for a good compost pile.
4. Leave the soil on the plants you pull out. There are microbes in this soil that can help jump-start the decomposition process in your compost pile.
5. There are still things you can plant, even now (check out the cultural recommendations listed below). A vegetable such as collards has a long planting time.
6. Consider planting cover crops to protect bare garden soil that may get lost due to erosion. Buckwheat, red clover, and legumes (like sugar snap peas) and even turnips are all good cover crops. Legumes are great because of their nitrogen-fixing nodules.
7. Leaves, and or hay are good to mulch garden rows and to protect tender vegetation during those cold winter days to come.
For information about partnering with the Good Food Project, or for other GFP program opportunities, contact the Good Food Project staff at 318.445.2773 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com, and on the web: www.goodfoodprojectcenla.org