I would like to say I am cleaning in the house but alas garden time is here and the house will be here when cold winter is here and the garden won't. I am cleaning in the garden.
Actually we did a humongous job of cleaning last fall, which has turned out to be a major advantage so far. We have been building raised beds due to our clay composition soil that seems to eat good dirt for lunch. We clean all garden debris off the beds and proceeded to add amendments that would be needed this year.
The amendments we use are peat moss, dried manure (we still have a nice pile of sheep manure in an old shed), and broken down wood chips (sometimes we also use the leaves we vacuum up with the mower.) We mix them into the dirt with our small tiller.
We own a Mantis. We recommend a Mantis. This is our second one. The first one we bought from an auction. It went bad after a couple of years and we found out mantis had a trade in program for old machines. We traded ours in and got a "new" reconditioned one from the company. I know we have used this machine for at least 5 years. It is a real work horse. It is so light weight even I can handle it. My only problem, I've never been able to pull start any gasoline engine. So if I want to use it I have to plan for someone to be around, or plan to use it in the morning and have my Hunny start it as he leaves to go to work. the only thing I find it does not to an admirable job on is unbroken soil. If it is packed dirt it just bounces around on top.
This was another reason we started making raised beds. The soil stays so nice, requiring less tractor work. We have tried raised beds where the dirt is mounded up. They work the same but the dirt has a tendency to to drift away by the end of the year. Mulching didn't seem to make a difference.
Back to the Fall preparation of the beds. Last fall I mowed the pasture next to the garden with the riding mower. The next day after the grass dried I vacumned it up and made a huge hay stack on the side of the garden. After we amended the beds and raked them smooth we covered each bed with a comforter of the dried grass. the grass was mounded as much as the bed would hold with out sliding off. That usually was about 8 inches thick.
Hunny worried we would be harboring insects from 2008. I stated my case that I thought being we removed all the debris that the problem went into the compost pile. (all noxious weeds and squash waste were cardboard boxed and thrown into the trash didn't want to multiply either).
Spring delight: I removed the grass pile from the first bed. The dirt under the cover was light and fluffy, just about the same consistency I left it in November. The grass had prevented the heavy rains and snow melt from soaking the soil (the grass wasn't even soaked.) I put the hoe into the soil and was able to make a trough down the middle of the bed and plant my spring onion sets. There was no spring weeds (the henbit and chickweed run rampant on any open ground durning the winter). The grass that was removed from the beds will be composted.
I will update this with a picture of the undressed bed. So far it is a labor we will repeat at the end of this year. The bed was warm and ready for planting. Will keep you posted on the progress or the "distress" caused by the winter coverings.
Happy gardening, Sheepish