Your Garden – 10 Things To Do in the Fall

Thinking ahead in almost any endeavor can go a long way towards improving your chances of success. So while you enjoy this wonderful time in your flower gardens and vegetable garden  — be thinking about next year.

Here are 10 things you can do now in your Vegetable Garden to save time and make next year more successful:

1. Help your garden bed be more productive by planting cover crops.

Most cover crops need to be planted about 4 weeks before killing frosts to give them enough time to become established.  They don’t need to live through the killing frosts —- just establish some growth BEFORE the killing frost.

Seed would not germinate for me earlier this month because of the dry conditions of drought, but we just recently had some wonderful rain —–so I’ll plant a cover crop of buckwheat in some of my beds.  Hard frost will kill it and it will protect my soil during the winter. I’ll turn it under to further decay in late winter or early spring adding organic matter.

2.  If any plants in your garden were diseased or plagued with mildew, discard them.

When I pull up cukes and squash plants, I usually leave them for a while and check them everyday to destroy remaining squash bugs – adult, young ones and eggs.  As the plants totally dry and I don’t see any more bugs, I take them out of the garden.  Any bugs or eggs that remain with them go along with the plants and won’t plague me next year.

Cukes and squash are almost always eventually effected with mildew in my garden.  ANYTHING that has had mildew, remove and discard.

My tomato plants look so fabulous this year that I will probably put them in the paths to decay.  In a year that they have been badly damaged by blight, I take them out. (Many will advise you to ALWAYS take them out, but I don’t.)

3. If you don’t already have one, make a garden chart, showing what you planted and where. It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Just something to help you remember what was where so you can plan next year’s bed.

Theresa's Garden Chart on Spread Sheet Paper. I start a new sheet every 3 or 4 years.

Although the case can be made (and made well) that crop rotation is not necessary in small home gardens, I try to rotate my crops and not plant the same thing more than once every three years. I think it’s just a good practice to  rotate crops rather than to chance depleting the soil of the same nutrients, even though I add organic matter each year to replenish nutrients.

Large farms rotate crops also to prevent a build up of bugs in one place.  (For example – tomatoes and the tomato hornworm.)

In a small garden, its almost impossible to keep plants far enough apart that those bug can’t find them.

4. While visiting your garden, plan now where you are going to put your cool weather crop in the spring of next year. For some reason, I find this is easier to do now rather than later.

Make notes on your chart.  When its time to order seed, you’ll know just what you need and where it will go.

5. If you don’t already have food for beneficial insects in your garden, plan on adding several plants to feed them so they’ll have a good supply of food before the “bad” bugs come on the scene.

Some considerations are dill, yarrow, coriander, cosmos, fennel, tansy, lavender, lemon balm and anthemis (golden marguerite).  I especially suggest anthemis since it feeds most  beneficials and can bloom from spring to frost if you deadhead. The idea is to have a plant they use for food always blooming so they can have food all season long.

6. Make sure your garden is mulched. I have just added a large roll of straw to my garden to decay (adding organic matter) and protect my soil from the elements.

I get large rolls of straw for use in my garden and borders.

7.  Remove any weeds, especially those that may seed in your garden.

Morning glories are beautiful but they can be a nuisance and choke out your vegetables if there are too many.

8.  If you have lettuce or greens or other crops that will be damaged by frost or freeze —–think about getting out your row covers or what protection you use.

Get your cold frames ready to put in the garden as well. Keeps you from the last minute panic when the weather man calls for the temperatures to dip.

9.  Go ahead and remove any dead wood from your berry bushes.

10.  Think about what cool weather crops you would like to put in, but haven’t. Here in the eastern part of  Virginia you probably still have time to put in things like kale. And as a friend of mine recently told me about my late planting  ——-even you don’t get a harvest this fall, you’ll have one in the spring.

If you live in an area where you won’t have time —- make a note on your garden chart — so you’ll get them in at the right time next year.

It’s a wonderful time of year friends.  Enjoy it and think about next season to help insure its success.

I wish you all the best!

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