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Photo: Kristi Blokhin (Shutterstock) After you’ve cleaned up the beds and put the hose and most of your tools away for the season, you may think that there’s nothing else you can do to set your garden up for success in the spring. But that’s not the case. The plants may get all of the attention, but the soil in your garden is what’s really important. And fortunately, there are things you can do to help it along during the colder months. In an article for Family Handyman , Maria Webster provides a few ways to improve your soil over the winter. Here are some to consider. Plant a cover crop As the name suggests, cover crops can be planted to protect the soil in your garden over the winter. “Over time, a cover crop regimen will increase soil organic matter, leading to improvements in soil structure, stability, and increased moisture and nutrient holding capacity for plant growth,” the USDA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service report. Spread a layer of mulch Though you may think of mulch as something used in landscaping to prevent the growth of weeds (and it is), it can also act like a cozy winter blanket for your garden soil, Webster says . Specifically, she recommends using organic mulch like bark, wood chips, straw, grass clippings, rice, and other seed hulls. “In addition to providing protection, they put nutrients back into the soil as they biodegrade, ultimately creating more organic materials for the microbes […]