As the winter draws near, our homes keep us busy with fall cleanup! Aside from clearing the leaves, pruning plants and getting our home ready for the cold of the winter, it is easy to overlook the home garden. If you want a successful garden for the next growing season, there are things we should be doing now!
Remove all the plants, weeds and debris from your garden. If they are disease-free you can compost them but if they are diseased, they must be discarded with the trash. Blight has been affecting the northeast for years now. During the growing season, these infected leaves should be removed and put out with the trash (not with yard waste). Now that the growing season is over, make sure all the plant parts are removed as you do not want the blight to reproduce during the winter months. Also in the spring make sure you practice crop rotation by simply planting crops in different spots then you did in the last few growing seasons.
Till your garden using a garden fork. Turning the soil is important to expose any insects who plan to overwinter. Add a layer of compost and till into your soil. Be sure to add a sufficient amount of compost by knowing the square-footage of your garden and be certain that the compost is appropriate for fruit and vegetable gardens!
Test the pH of your soil! You should test the pH in the fall and again in the spring. The pH should be in the range of 6.4-7.2 (with 6.8 being ideal). If the soil is not in the appropriate range you can treat it using the proper amounts of lime.
If your garden is on a slope, considering covering your soil with salt hay to avoid runoff. Another option is to sow cover crops, such as winter rye, to improve your soil.
Dream and plan your garden for the next growing season! Think about all the wonderful crops you may grow and be sure to order some seeds this winter!
If you are not yet aware, the Cornell Cooperative Extension has a horticultural hotline which is the most valuable resource ever! Educators are available to answer any question you have about home gardening and much more! Westchester County residents can call #914.285.4640.