Fall clean-up

The extra canning jars and the canner are put away for the season at the farm. There are a few pumpkins to be removed from the garden along with some potatoes left to be dug. There are a few apples still clinging onto the trees and so the end has come to another growing season in my vegetable garden. There is still work to be done particularly in the perennial gardens but for the most part, vegetable gardening, for me, has come to an end.

The work that has yet to be done has much more to do with the final last steps in the vegetable garden that some preparation in this fall’s cleanup will help out with getting a great start next spring. With all of the rain we have had this year and if you have soils that are tending to be leaning towards the sandier soils, it is a must to get your soils checked this year for nutrients. Nitrogen in particular, tends to “wash out” of sandy soils which will leave your plants struggling right off of the get go next spring. In the past, we have talked about cover crops to help this situation but you can also now apply manure to the garden as well. This should be done now in order to keep any contamination from livestock manure transferring onto your produce. It also breaks down better after it has gone through the process of being tilled into your garden.

If you still have plant material in the garden such as vines, tomato plants and so forth, it is a good idea to start to clean them out and compost them. This is particularly a good idea when there may have been diseases in the garden or pests in the garden. The other component to manage in the fall garden is to also make sure to pull and remove all weeds. This should be done as soon as possible and it is recommended to not compost weeds so that you don’t return the weed seed burden back to the garden. If a compost pile is done correctly, it should kill many of the weed seeds but it is easier to just not add them into the pile just in case.

The last thing to do in the garden is to till it. Or should you? It is only necessary to till your vegetable garden in the fall if your soil sample is telling you that you need to add manure or fertilizer to the garden. If you do not need to till, covering it either with a cover crop, leaves, straw or hay is a good way to keep your garden soil from washing away. We hear a lot about our farmers having to pay attention to erosion in their field and along waterways. This is something that as gardeners, we should pay attention to as well. We can leave our gardens, after we have them all cleaned up, as is for the winter. This will actually keep all of those wonderful things that are happening in the soil on going.

If you would like to learn more, please visit http://blog-yard-garden-news.extension.umn.edu/2018/10/5-steps-to-put-your-vegetable-garden-to.html. There is also a link on this website to a webinar about putting your vegetable garden to bed for the winter. For more information on gardening, you can reach me at s.dejaeghere@me.com