Success in the Garden Next Spring Begins Now
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We wait sometimes until early spring to plan for our garden but autumn is a great time to plan for a successful garden. Some items in the fall are:
Clean up the garden by removing remaining summer plants and waste. This removes a source of residual pests, eggs and spores, thus reducing the need for pesticides the next spring. In addition, you still need to remove the weeds. This reduces the number of weed seeds that will be able to germinate the following spring.
Apply mulch, decomposing leaves and/or compost. This adds insulation, reduces compacting, diminishes weed seed germination, and adds organic matter to the soil.
Fall planting: In addition to cool weather crops, which should be planted early August to early September, it is time to plant fall bulbs, such as flowering varieties, garlic, rhubarb, etc…
Plan and design for next year. Is it time to relocate the garden to a spot with more sun exposure? Repair or replace the existing borders of the garden, or add terracing? Fall is a great time to take notice of overcrowded perennial plants. They can then be divided and transplanted when the weather is cooler and there is less stress on the plant.
Collect seed. This is an optimal time to gather and label for next year’s planting. It’s also an ideal time to obtain cuttings to be propagated inside over the winter. Hardwood cuttings can be taken while dormant and placed in moist medium in an above-freezing location to start forming roots.
Collect and mail soil samples. Correcting pH and adding needed amenities to the soil, to allow incorporation over the winter, begins with obtaining soil samples. Collection containers and instructions are available at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Cherokee County Center. Soil tests are performed by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and are free until the end of November, however, you must pay to mail them to the lab in Raleigh.
Garden tool care. Clean, sharpen, oil and store as needed, and you should be ready to go next spring.