So the garden season in the Midwest is coming to an end – and the daily chores have certainly dwindled. So what’s a gardener to do with all the time on their hands? For us – it is the perfect time to plan next year’s garden. Why now? Because everything is fresh in your mind. The successes…the failures, and the “I want to try that next year” are still at the top of your mind. Before you know it – Thanksgiving and Christmas are here, January and February fly by – and all of those great ideas you had back in the fall get lost in the rush to just get a garden planted.
So here are 3 great tips to help you plan now for a beautiful 2013 garden!
1) PUT IT ON PAPER – NOW!
Hands down – if you do anything – do this! It’s one thing to say that you would like to try this or that, grow more tomatoes or herbs, or a different variety of pepper. But when you sit down and put it all down on paper – it’s amazing to find out how much better it all works next spring. Planning now lets you easily remember what performed well – what didn’t – and what you need to try different. It definitely made all the difference in getting even more out of our own space this year! In addition – you end up with a great set of notes from year to year to help in your efforts.
2) PLAN TO ROTATE YOUR CROPS
It’s so important to practice crop rotation – even on a small-scale garden basis. If you keep planting tomatoes in the same spot – don’t expect to keep getting the same results. Different plants require different nutrients -and the soil begins to lose those nutrients if you keep planting the same crops in the same place. In addition – planting the same plants in the space is an open invitation to passing on soil borne diseases that can wreak havoc on garden plants. So make sure you plan out different spaces in your garden plan – another great reason writing it all down now is so important!
3) PLAN TO GIVE YOUR PLANTS THE BEST PLACE AND SPACE THEY NEED
Another advantage of planning – You get to see now how your plants are going to be positioned. Tomatoes and peppers need the sun and lots of it. The more space you can leave between those plants – the more light and air and rain can get to them – keeping the plants healthy and allowing their fruits to ripen better. Cool weather crops – like cucumbers and lettuce – can benefit from being placed in the shadier parts of your garden – or in areas where fast and tall-growing plants and vegetables can provide some later shade. Putting it down on paper now gives you the advantage of having a plan in place to follow.
And for those of you who container garden – plant rotation is just as important – make sure you change what you grow in each raised bed or container. As for that soil – it’s so important in raised beds and containers to recharge that spent soil with fresh compost to keep plants growing strong.
So get planning now and get off to a great 2013 garden!!! - Jim and Mary
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