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
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.
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
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
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