Preparing your garden railway for winter

A little preparation in the fall can help your plants survive tough weather conditions
A composted mixture of pine bark and peanut hulls.
Merrill Miller
Merrill Miller
A little of this mixture goes a long way.
Merrill Miller
It is November, and it's time to start getting your railroad ready for its winter sleep. The leaves are in their painted glory and ready to fall gracefully right onto your layout. For most of us our first impulse is to get out the blowers, the rakes and the brushes to rid our tracks of the unwanted visitors from Mother Nature. Hold on just a minute! There is a school of thought that suggests that we are wasting our time. Leaves are a natural mulch that will compost into the ground over the winter and give us a healthier soil for the coming season. This will also save us money since we will not have to purchase bags of mulch from the local garden center.

If this method appeals to you, you'll need remove the large leaves that fall since you will want to concentrate on using the smaller ones. If you have a leaf mulcher, scatter the ground up leaves around your plants and buildings. If you have a large number of full-size trees and find that the leaves are building up and holding a lot of moisture, remove the first couple of layers. You still want the plants to breathe. If you don't have a lot of trees and want to use this method, contact your local recycling center and ask if they have leaf mulch. This usually comes loose so you will need to make arrangements for transport.

Bagged mulch is probably the most commonly used method of cleaning up the railway and making it look nice for the winter, especially if you are planning a seasonal theme. I would like to recommend a product that I discovered two years ago. It is called BIO-COMP and it is a composted mixture of pine bark and aged peanut hulls that has been screened to a uniform particle size. The one I use BC-50/50A does not contain added lime, starter fertilizer, wetting agent or biological controls, although you can also get it with these ingredients. The mulch comes in 3 cu. ft. bags and costs approximately $9.00 per bag.

There are several reasons why I like using this material, (1) the consistency is soft and easy to spread by hand or by bucket, etc. and it stays where you put it, (2) water will pass through easily and the wind will not scatter it, (3) It gives a nice, neat finished appearance to your railway, (4) it becomes part of the soil and does not need to be removed the following year, (5) because of its consistency, a little goes a long way.

You can contact BIO-COMP, INC at 2116-B BIO_COMP Drive, Edenton, NC 27932 or call at 252-482-8528 or 800-624-4769. Email: I think this will be a product that you will enjoy working with and one that will certainly make your layout look winter ready.


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