The end of the growing season can be a very tough time for avid gardeners. It is not easy to gaze upon the place where your once flourishing garden was and see that it has been replaced with drapes of brown, dead vines and rotting produce. How depressing! We want to encourage you to direct your thoughts and hopes to planning your garden and all the possibilities for growth and improvement next year.
Create a plan
Start off with a good brainstorming session. Create a list of things you want to accomplish in your garden next year. Consider how you and when you con accomplish those ideas and dreams by preparing now. Try to determine how much it will cost and make a budget.
Feel free to utilize this list of possible options to get your imagination up and running. . .
- Install raised beds
- Create a strategy for pest control
- Install a new watering system
- Get a soil test done
- Amend the soil
- Plant a number of new varieties
- Go organic
- Start a composting pile
- Start plants inside
- Install a rainwater barrel
- Plant a new bed designated for herbs, perennials, annuals, etc.
- Grow for preservation
- Properly fence the garden in
Clean up (but not everything)
It is important to prepare your garden by removing any diseased plants in their entirety. Also get rid of weeds just like you would in the regular growing season. This will lessen the possibility of them returning next year. Any plants that are healthy are allowed to stay where they are. Simply break them down and allow them to work into the soil over the winter. Existing plants will feed the soil and provide necessary nourishment that will benefit your growing next year.
Test the soil
If you really want to go all out to ensure that your plants do their best next year, we suggest investing the time and money into getting the soil tested. It can be a multiple week process between ordering the test, sending the sample, and waiting for the result. A soil test will tell you the nutrition level of your soil and also how acidic the soil is. As you probably know, some plants require high acidic soil, some require soil that is alkaline. Testing the soil might especially be a good idea if you experienced some unexplained diseases or other issues with your plants in the past.
Amend the soil
If you have chosen to have a soil test done, you will know exactly how to improve the soil for next year. There are usually a variety of amendments that you can add in order to achieve each purpose, including more expensive vs. budget options. It is important to consider the needs of your plants and what type of soil they like before you start adding amendments. For example, asparagus love alkaline soil, so how you amend the soil here will not be the same as how you amend the soil for tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers.
If you have chosen to forgo the soil test, there are some generally beneficial amendments that you can add to your soil, no matter what state the soil is in.
Common household items: used coffee grounds (not too much), Epsom salt, eggshells.
You can store these up and use them in your compost, or sprinkle them over the soil as quickly as you use them, even daily.
Animal waste: horse manure, chicken poop, cow manure, chopped up leaves.
These items are more useful to the soil when composted, but if you are applying them in the fall like we are discussing, they will successfully compost over the winter and early spring.
Soil amendments you can purchase: hummus, compost, peet moss, kelp meal, lime.
If you are considering fencing in your garden, feel free to call and discuss our best options! Whether it is to repel deer, keep smaller critters out, or just to look good. . . we have the fence for you. Call and schedule an appointment today at 301-663-4000.