Goodbye Garden, Hello 2007

Frank Williams
Adams County Master Gardener

It is almost November and you have probably almost completed the garden cleanup process. But, in case you have delayed this task, this article may spur you on in so doing.

Completing the Basics

Gathering up this year's garden debris is a must in maintaining your garden's health. First, remove all diseased plants and discard them far away from your garden area. Healthy vegetable plants and flowers should also be removed and can become a part of your compost pile.

Mulching and Fertilizing

Young, tender plants with shallow roots can definitely benefit from some mulch from last year's compost or bought from a local nursery. This late in the fall, fertilizing may best be delayed until spring. Do not mulch too heavily because you may encourage pests and diseases to overwinter in your mulch and soil and attack your plants once again come spring. Three to four inches of mulch is about right. Deep watering shrubs is also wise but do so before the ground is frozen.

Evaluation of your 2006 Gardens

Have you considered what plants you liked and produced well in 2006? If, for example, you kept a diagram of your vegetable garden, you might wish to consider which plants prospered in each location. Our garden has full sun and partial sun areas. Some vegetables, (i.e. peppers), prosper well in either environment. Tomatoes and beans yield best in full sun. Where possible, rotate vegetables each year. Beans are legumes which actually add nitrogen to the soil; moving them around helps other crops to benefit from the beans' nitrogen fixing largesse. Similarly, different environments work best for your

flowers, especially the annuals. Plan to adjust next year's plantings according to your success and color schemes for 2007.

Raised beds

If you have garden areas where the soil is simply inadequate for good results, it's not too late to consider raising beds for next year. Add compost or purchased soil to make a rich bed for your spring plantings.


Remember also that bulbs, ornamental grasses and the like need occasional separating for maximum success. If, after several years, the bloom of your naturalized bulbs appears to decline, it may be due to overcrowding, since they have continued to reproduce. In that case, after the leaves have withered, the bulbs should be lifted, separated, and replanted at a greater spacing.

Some plants can be brought inside for the winter months and then placed back in the garden come spring. We have found our geraniums over winter inside in a sunny window very successfully.

Cleaning Garden Tools

Most of us don't give much thought to the various tools we use each year. But we have our favorites and they too need our attention. Cleaning and sharpening them in fall or winter, putting a bit of linseed oil on wooden parts, and having them ready for next spring is a useful cold weather activity.

Downsizing the Gardens

As I was contemplating writing this article, I had a conversation with a young woman discussing gardens. She is a single mom with three children and a full-time job. Her comment, when I queried her about next year's garden, was very direct: "I need to reduce my six flower gardens down to no more than three!"" Excellent," I responded, "Gardening is fun only if it meshes success-fully with your other responsibilities and desires." Plant some low maintenance wildflowers, put in an attractive ground cover or extend a bit of lawn where the time consuming gardens are now. I added one admonition: "Please just don't pave over your garden spaces - we have plenty of developers willing to do that for us!"

Read other fall related gardening articles

Read other gardening articles by Frank Williams