Fall is a great time to savor your successes from the garden (and record any failures). It’s also the time to clean-up and organize for the next spring.
A gardener’s notebook is a great way to keep track of what you planted (include a sketch of the garden). Make notes on what you liked, what you didn’t like, what you want to plant more of for next year, and if you have any perennials, where they are located so you aren’t surprised in the spring!
To get your garden ready for winter, follow these simple steps:
1. Pick all remaining tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables and store in a cool, dry location. Tomatoes can be ripened in sealed, heavy-duty paper shopping bags (put newspaper between layers). Check every few days and remove ripe ones, then reseal the bag.
2. Some vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower can stay in the ground because they will actually help kill harmful pests by attracting them in the fall and then killing them in the spring when the plants start to decompose, emitting deadly (to bugs) cyanide compounds.
3. Any diseased plants should be removed completely and thrown in the trash. Do not put them in your compost pile.
4. Any other plants that have not finished producing and have had all the remaining vegetables removed can be pulled out and put into your compost pile. Removing the entire plant helps eliminate bugs and diseases, such as early blight.
5. Completely clear the garden of weeds before they drop their seeds and create problems for next year.
6. Till the garden and add soil amendments if so desired. Tilling is especially important because most disease micro-organisms are destroyed once any remaining plant material is mixed into the soil and begins to rot. It’s not necessary to smooth the surface of the garden after fall tilling.
Other fall clean-up suggestions include the following:
SOIL TEST: Get a soil test — now is a great time to test your soil to check pH levels. If needed, you can change it by using the proper amounts of lime this fall.
STAKES/TRELLISES: Take down stakes and trellises to clean and store for next spring.
PESTICIDES: Check expiration dates of pesticides and dispose of any that will expire over the winter. Store pesticides in a cool, dry, safe place.
GARDEN TOOLS: Clean, sand and oil garden tools before storing them for the winter.
A little hard work and organization now will make next spring’s planting season easier!