Fall garden clean-up to prepare for winter is much easier than spring prep. Just pull and cover. Well, maybe it's not quite that simple, but it really is a piece of cake compared to the spring time chores. I'm going to focus only on the vegetable gardens.
- Pull and compost all spent vegetable plants that will not survive winter. Make sure you get every bit of debris - sometimes disease hangs out in what is left behind (i.e., tomato blight).
- Weed the beds.
- Mulch or plant a cover crop. I found cover crops to be cumbersome. You need a good-sized patch and easy access with a rototiller to turn it back under in the spring. That was the part that was hard for us -- rototilling it back under. Experts claim cover crops are tremendous soil builders and I don't doubt them. My preference for soil building is a thick layer of mulch with compost and horse manure.
- There are many other types of mulch to use and you can find a nice list here. The idea of mulch is to keep weeds at bay and more importantly, prevent soil erosion over the winter. Depending on the mulch you use, you'll feed your soil well over the winter also.
- Enjoy winter's rest. I know I will!
Really, that's all that's to it. The important thing is to do it. If you don't, by spring you'll have an amazing crop of weeds in the soil that isn't dried out and parched from winter's freeze-drying process. There are some excellent cold-hardy weeds out there that will love taking hold and growing in you mulchless garden.