Fall Garden Tips

          Cleaning up the dried remains of this year’s vegetable crops is a good way to start next year’s garden. Plants which were healthy should go onto a compost pile where they can eventually become nutrients for future gardens. If you had diseases affecting some of your plants this year you need to ask yourself if your compost pile really heats up. Many home compost piles do not get hot enough to kill disease spores. If your compost pile does not get hot enough, consider burning or otherwise disposing of disease infected plant material.

          Although this is not a great time to add a commercial fertilizer to your garden, this is a good time to add manure or compost. If you have very heavy or compacted soils this may be a good time for a deep tillage. I generally prefer a minimum or zero tillage approach to gardening using heavy mulches for weed control. If you do till your garden now you may want to consider planting a cover crop to encourage microbial activity. This late in the season I would just spread and rake in some small grains like wheat, oats or barley and any leftover radish or pea seed. If you had radishes which bolted, flowered and set seed you have a perfect source of seed for your cover crop. Canola would also be a great cover crop. Radishes and canola are small seeds which can germinate quickly and tolerate light frosts and cool temperatures.