Back to your garden.Time to prepare it for the winter!
Make sure to pull out any dead or dying plants. You can let them decompose in your garden if you'd like, or place them in your compost.
Unfortunately, it's too late for a cover crop. A cover crop is planted in late September to increase your soil fertility, protect your soil from compacting, and for suppressing weeds. In early spring, I will discuss planting a cover crop to prepare your summer garden.
example of a cover crop from mnn.com
Harsh winter rain can destroy your soil by compacting it down. To prevent this, add 4 inches of organic compost to your entire garden. Not only will the compost protect your garden, it will also add some much needed nutrients.
Set yourself up for a great growing season next year!
How is your fall garden going? Mine is slow. I have lettuce, arugula, beets, and surprisingly, some peas.
Peas aside, the three vegetables I am growing should be able to do well down to 20 degrees F. Not the case.
It's interesting how different the maintenance and worrying is in the fall, compared to the summer. Here are the questions I ask myself in the summer:
1. Are my plants too hot?
2. Are they getting enough water?
3. Do I need to weed?
4. What bugs might be attacking my plants?
5. Are there enough nutrients in my soil?
In the fall, it's completely different:
1. Are my plants too cold?
2. Are they getting too much water?
3. Is the wind affecting my plants?
My problem is too much water. Here are signs that your fall garden is getting too much water:
1. Pale colored leaves
2. Stunted growth
3. Wilting leaves
4. Dying plants. (check for root rot, it looks like it sounds)
notice the pale leaves
Consistent rain not only can cause root rot, but it will also wash the nitrogen out of your soil.
Here is what you can do today:
1. Mulching with straw. Wait until your soil has dried out a bit before you apply. Mulch can hold moisture in just as much as it can keep it out.
2. Get rid of any rotting plants immediately.
3. Raised beds are ideal, but sometimes it's not enough. Create mounds of dirt within your raised beds to grow your vegetables in. This will increase the airflow around your plants roots. See image below
4. Build a hoop house or cloche to not only warm up your soil temperatures but to also limit the water that is absorbed into your soil.
5. Be sure to add fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen. See this post for tips.
Not sure if your soil is retaining too much water? Pick up a handful of dirt from your garden and squeeze. If water drips out, it's too wet!