Dear Readers,

Winter is just around the corner and gardening doesn’t stop here even with the first flurries of snow.   There’s plenty you can be doing in your garden throughout the winter to prepare for the following season.  

Grab yourself a nice hot cuppa tea and  read on to find out what you can be doing in your garden right now and get ahead for the next season.

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This is a follow up to my previous post on growing your best garden ever and I’m sharing just how I get my garden together for winter and the growing seasons ahead.

Preparing the garden for winter

This was the garden last year under the snow taken from the warmth and comfort of inside.  Last year in autumn, we covered the main garden in leaves before the snow but this year with a bit of planning we’ve been able to do so much more.

Preparing the Garden on Our Homestead

The garden preparation starts with deep cleaning the coop.  It sounds like an odd place to start for a post about preparing the garden for winter doesn’t it? 

preparing the garden for winter

There is method to my madness I assure you!  

I like to use as much as possible on the homestead by reusing and recycling wherever possible and whilst I compost the coop bedding normally however, I needed to make another compost heap or do something else with it.  My family and I started pulling all of the soiled bedding out and placing it in a wheelbarrow or heavy duty cart and put it on the garden; sawdust, straw manure and all.

Take a look at my latest video below to see what mulches I use in my organic vegetable gardens.

If you like the video please hit the Like button or share with your friends (thanks!).  Click to Subscribe to my Youtube Channel and see my videos!

I have a no-dig garden and I’m hoping that by adding the bedding early enough will give it the opportunity to break down enough before the growing season starts.  We will be adding our homemade compost on top of the coop bedding to plant into in early spring.

For our garden, the soiled chicken coop bedding acts as a mulch suppressing weeds and as a fertilizer feeding the soil.

If you dig your garden, you can till the bedding in to ensure it has thoroughly composted.  If you have a heavy clay soil, autumn is the ideal time to turn over the soil to let the frost break the clods up.

preparing the garden for winter

This was my allotment plot when I first took it, the ground was a very heavy clay and the ground heavily treated in chemical fertilizer and pesticides.  I dug over portions of the allotment to allow the frost to break up the clay ready to plant in the spring.

Clay soils are high in nutrients and are very fertile once the structure has been opened up with the addition of plenty of organic matter like compost.

no dig gardening, no dig farming

The garden I currently have is sandy with plenty of pebbles in it.  The addition of manure, mulch and compost should help increase water and nutrient retention over time.


Spreading compost on the garden beds can help retain moisture and add humus to sandy soils and improve soil structure to clay soil.

Winter doesn’t stop the composting process, in fact we have several composters in our garden and you can too no matter where you homestead.  We want to ensure we have enough compost to see us through the growing season and to spread on top of the winter mulch used across the garden to plant into.

We use a Bokashi composter to take care of cooked meat and fish or bones and dairy as leftovers from the kitchen (which was greatly put to use after Thanksgiving!), a worm composter to handle some plant waste and dog poop (yup, we compost that for the non-fruiting trees and perennials) and a large compost heap.

kickstart the compost

Turning the compost

There are lots of options available for the urban homesteader in an apartment all the way to the suburban homesteader on an acre lot in the suburbs.  There are composters ranging from an  indoor worm composter and Bokashi composter to larger pallet compost structures to fast a tumbling composter for larger gardens.

Winter is a great time to start composting and either buy a composter  or build one.

preparing the garden for winter

This was the start of our composter and leaf mold a week after moving in back in 2015, it was mostly eggshells, tea, coffee grinds and fallen leaves believe it or not!

The compost evolved as the seasons changed to add more grass clippings, some wood ash from summer fires in the backyard, woody plant material like broccoli stalks and chicken coop bedding.

Learn from my mistake and make sure the compost heap gets water and doesn’t dry out.  If you already have a heap but it isn’t working so well, take a look at one of my earlier YouTube videos below to see how I got my dried up heap back in business again.

If you like the video please hit the Like button or share with your friends (thanks!).  Click to Subscribe to my Youtube Channel and see my videos!

The compost heap is now mostly chicken coop bedding, eggshells, tea and coffee.  Some things don’t change during the year!

Did you know that the first coffee house in England opened in Oxford (southern England) in 1650?

Free urban homesteading advice


Fall is an exciting time of year for the organic gardener and leaves can be a great mulch, soil conditioner when rotted as leaf mold and even as a carbon addition to the compost heap.

Leaf mulch

I mostly use leaves as a mulch on top of the garden beds and making leaf mold in a wire composter to use on the garden the following fall.

If you are concerned about the “nitrogen robbing” of the soil by high carbon mulch, you can add high nitrogen manure on top or underneath the mulch.  Some manures have higher nitrogen content than others; chicken manure is one of the highest and if you don’t have access to fresh chicken manure, try a granulated organic chicken manure from the store.

Sort Your Seeds

Going through your remaining seed stash and list those which you still have and those which need replacing.  Make sure you store your seeds properly and check germination when using older seeds, especially if they haven’t been stored properly.

preparing the garden for next season

This year’s saved pumpkin seeds drying on a piece of kitchen paper.

Winter is when the seed catalogues start to appear in my mailbox and rather than wasting money by buying things I already have, I create a list of all the seeds I have so I don’t get too tempted in buying more….ok so maybe it’s only one or two extra packets!

Clean Your Trays and Pots

Pull out your seed trays, plant pots and empty out the soil.  Scrub the potting containers with hot soapy water to reduce soil borne pests and diseases.  This is particularly important to get the best from your precious seeds.

Getting ahead for the next season

I let the chickens pick over the containers in their run to feast on any overwintering spiders, slugs or snails.  They get quite excited when they see me walking up with containers in my arms.

Encourage Wildlife 

Did you know that a colony of bees will use about 44 pounds of pollen a year?

Organic gardening is all about finding the right balance with nature.   Attracting wildlife can help with lots of problems in the organic garden; snakes can help with mice and slugs while the birds can take care of bugs.  A constant water source is a great way to attract bees, butterflies, lizards, snakes and birds into your garden.

encouraging wildlife

A bee hotel can provide a habitat for many good bugs can provide a habitat for many good bugs and are easy to make with lots of recyclable materials such as plastic bottles, cardboard, twigs, dried grasses and more.

Easy to make bird feeders provide a food source for your feathered friends during winter’s scarce months.  There’s plenty of other things you can do in the winter garden for the local wildlife; you can provide a water source like a bird bath, plant beneficial shrubs which yield berries during winter and put up bird nesting boxes to help them out further.  You can even make nesting boxes out of old teapots!

Plan for Fruit

Fruit can take a couple of years before good yields can be had and winter is a great time to order bare root trees and shrubs.

planning your garden for next season

Make sure you have planned on where they will be going before the plants arrive so the new plants will have the best chance.  Fruit trees typically take the longest to produce and are one of the first things we have planted in our garden and the house already had a couple of fruit trees established. We have a peach, multi-grafted pear, cherry and plum as well as 3 apple trees. 

preparing for next season

Winter is a good time to plant trees and fruiting shrubs such as currants and berries whilst they are dormant.

A word of caution to the urban homesteader; fruit trees can be seen somewhat as a nuisance depending where you live and may affect the resale value of your property.  New homeowners can look on fruit trees as something extra to take care of, especially when many folks are looking for minimalist lifestyles and HOAs to take over looking after yards and taking care of snow.  For us, we won’t be planting any more fruit trees for this reason (much to my disappointment) and we won’t be able to dig up the trees to move them with us when we move to our final homestead due to the state agricultural plant restrictions.

Build New Beds

The end of the season is a good time to start a new garden bed especially before the snows arrive. Raised beds or lasagna garden beds are what we have in our gardens and are easy to put together.

planning for next season

If you are making a lasagna type of raised bed, the long winter months allow for the fillers (such as fresh vegetation or leaves) to break down ready for the planting season.

Stay tuned to find out more even tips and tricks I will be sharing over the upcoming weeks in my posts to help you have the best garden ever!  If you have any tips to share with me or other readers please share them in the comments or at the Misfit Gardening Community Forum, we would love to hear your ideas and tips.

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