Alas, the time has come to acknowledge that summer can't last forever. We must prepare our gardens for next spring. I know that you gardeners are already planning for next spring, aren't you? And you know that next year's garden will be even better if you change some of the things you did this year. My DH has decided he is going to run his rows the opposite direction next year and where he is going to plant the crops in the spring.
It is time to quit fertilizing so that all the plant's strength will go into the making of the vegetable. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, sweet corn and summer squash, should be harvested before the nights drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. (FYI we already had a good frost on Oct. 1) We have no tomatoes this year due to the late blight. We dug the potatoes a little early too when we saw the blight on the vines.
Dig carrots and let them dry to reduce mildew or rot from forming before putting them in storage for the winter. Pull up the plants and place them in a pile to burn them. Burning gets rid of bugs and disease.
Better soil--Better production
Roto-till the clay-based soil now allowing the winter weather to further break up the soil before spring. This finer soil helps seed germination in the spring. It is also time to add amendments to the soil and work them in with the roto-tiller. We are fortunate to live in a city that collects yard waste and then piles it and turns it to make compost for the city residents. We had several loads brought in this fall and my DH spread it on the garden. Our soil is clay, but by roto-tilling in the compost, it helps to make it a clay loam soil which will produce better plants. If you have nice rich soil you may not need to break it up in the fall.
This is a good time to take soil samples to your extension office. Contact them for the best way to take samples from your garden and for the charge for the testing. The report will include a list of nutrients to add next spring before planting. The test will also determine the pH factor of the soil and recommend steps for making it more alkaline or acidic.
Taking time now to clean up your garden will make a great difference for next spring by ridding your garden of pests and disease and amending the soil so you will have better production next year.