The fall season is a busy one. We’re all busy cleaning up the outside areas of our homes and gardens to prepare for colder days ahead. The list of things to do this fall isn’t a short one but if you can fit a few more items to your list you will save yourself some time in the spring! Let’s take a look today at a few things you can do this fall to prepare your vegetable garden for spring.
5 Fall Things To Do To Prepare the Vegetable Garden for Spring
Clear out your summer garden. Maybe you’ve already done this but I haven’t. We were still getting tomatoes and peppers from the garden and I didn’t want to stop a good thing!
Don’t put any diseased foliage or branches in the compost bin. In the past I’ve burned the dead and dried tomato stems in a fire pit. Once the ashes cooled I tossed them into the compost bin. If you were to put diseased materials in your compost you will probably just spread it around to other plants next year.
- Add compost to your garden beds. Compost and the organic matter it contains are one of the best amendments you can add to your garden. The organic matter keeps the soil loose and is great at retaining moisture. It also contains living organisms that work hard to bring usable nutrients to your vegetable plants. You can till compost into the soil if you like or simply spread it on top of the beds and rake it in lightly. Over tilling soil can destroy the soil structure so try to use the tiller a little less often. Spreading the compost on top of the soil will allow the rain (or snow) to wash the compost into the soil. Don’t forget to keep composting over the winter. I know the trek to the compost bin might get chilly at times but your plants will thank you!
- Mulch your beds! After you’ve spread compost on the vegetable garden cover it with a thick layer of natural mulch. One of the cheapest and easiest to find mulches is available right now on your lawn – leaves! I highly recommend using a bagging mower to collect the leaves since the mower will dice the leaves into small bits and pieces which are easier to break down in the garden. If you happen to get a bunch of grass clippings to go with the leaves then that’s great too. A balance of green and brown materials is ideal blend to make compost! I use grass clippings all the time for the vegetable garden. I do avoid Bermuda grass clippings since those are prone to rooting – I’m fighting a Bermuda grass battle anyway. Also avoid using grass that has been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. You don’t want that stuff on your food, in your food, or around your food!
- If you haven’t already done so make a crop rotation plan. While the locations of your plantings are still fresh in your mind write them down. Next year don’t plant the same thing in the same spot. Diseases that effect one family of plants may not effect another but can persist in the soil for several years. If you rotate the crops in a 3-4 year rotation you’ll be better able to avoid those diseases. This requires good note taking or a 100% accurate photographic memory. I don’t know about you but I don’t have the latter!
Write down the good stuff from the vegetable garden. If something was outstanding – write it down!
That tomato that produced prolifically, was disease free, and tasted awesome is one you want to plant again and again. So write it down and you will never forget it! You can make a list of things you didn’t like too, to help you avoid those plants next year. It makes no sense to keep replanting a vegetable that never grows well, doesn’t taste good, or you just don’t want and have no use for!