Why are fall vegetable garden chores so important? Because how you put a garden to bed this year can make a big difference in how it performs next year!
Fall is just around the corner, and a little work now can go along way in keeping next year’s garden healthy and productive. Here is our checklist of must do fall vegetable garden chores.
6 Must-Do Fall Vegetable Garden Chores
#1 Snap A Photo
Taking a photo of your garden is of the easiest fall vegetable garden chores you will ever do. And one of the most helpful!
Before you ever pull out a single plant, take out that handy cell phone and snap a few photos of your garden.
Rotating crops is one of the best ways to keep a garden healthy and productive year after year. And if you don’t know where you planted what, it can be a difficult task. Garden photos can also help you remember what did well and what didn’t.
Think you will remember? Don’t count on it! Winter has a funny way of letting the best of gardeners forget what was where last year.
#2 Clear The Garden
As soon as that photo is snapped, it’s time to clear the garden! Clearing the garden of all spent vegetable foliage and fruit is a big key to the health of next years garden.
Besides being unsightly, plants left to overwinter in the garden are an open invitation to pests and disease. Whatever you do, remove those plants!
#3 Don’t Till
Here is one chore you should never perform in the fall – tilling!
Tilling in the fall leaves the soil surface exposed to the harshness of winter. Wind, rain and snow can easily whip away valuable topsoil over the winter. It also exposes the soil to weed seeds, giving them an open invitation to plant themselves for next year.
So what do you do if you don’t till? See #4
#4 Cover That Soil – Plant That Cover Crop!
Plain and simple, cover crops are the best way to keep your garden productive.
When the garden is complete, give it a winter blanket to help stop erosion, replenish valuable nutrients, and keep weed seeds from finding a home in bare soil.
Cover crops are easy to plant, inexpensive, and the perfect way to protect your garden from fall til spring! See : How To Plant A Cover Crop
If cover crops are not an option, at the very least cover the soil with leaves or straw. Keeping your garden soil covered is the key to keeping weeds out! Product Link : Annual Rye Cover Crop Seed
#5 Clean & Disinfect Stakes, Cages, Trellises And Supports
As soon as plants are cleared – remove and clean off tomato cages, stakes, pepper supports, pea trellises, and any other objects used with plants in the garden. Clean all with a mild solution of water and bleach to disinfect any fungus or disease that may be present.
Fungus, mildew and blight can easily be transferred from year to year from supports, and from garden tools as well for that matter.
A simple solution of a 1/2 cup bleach with a gallon of water will do the trick. Wipe all areas of the supports down with the solution, and rinse off with water. Let them dry in the sun, and store away. This is one chore that although extremely important, often takes a back seat.
Removing supports as soon as plants are finished also helps them to last longer than just a season or two!
#6 Keep Your Compost Free Of Disease
Although fall is a big time to create and build a compost pile, there are a few things to avoid adding.
Keep clear of adding the foliage of tomato and pepper plants. Both of these nightshade family members are highly prone to blight and mildew. For the majority of home composters, the heat generated in the compost pile is not enough to kill these pathogens.
Adding them to your pile can mean passing any disease present along to next years crop. It is also a good idea to keep from putting in the seed cores of vegetables.
Once again, without a super-hot pile, these seeds can come back up next year and create quite the problem.
So get out there this fall and get that garden in shape for a great harvest next year! Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary.
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