While it may seem that we just planted our summer crops, the season is halfway over, and soon it will be time to prepare our gardens for the Fall and Winter seasons. Cooler weather requires different practices to prepare for the next planting period; we need to clean out our summer harvest to ensure we have a clean slate.
Close Out Your Summer Garden
- Put Your Garden to Bed – Your next harvest depends on how well you close out, or “put your garden to bed” this summer. Clean up the area by removing anything that didn’t survive – replant flowers that need more room as they have outgrown their space, deadhead blooms that didn’t survive, and dig up bulbs that won’t make it through the winter. Make sure to remove annual plants and vegetables since they will not regrow next season, as leaving them in will only promote the rise of pests and disease. Pull them out, roots included, and dispose of them or add them to your compost pile. Keep in mind that you can often save seeds from annuals to sow for the next season. You also need to remember that pests target not only your typical garden crops, they also settle on certain types of weeds and fallen leaves. This means you need to clean up the area to promote a healthy, pest-free environment.
- Assess the Season – You need to analyze the area to see how the flowers, fruit and vegetables survived the summer. Assess what prospered and what dried up, and use that knowledge to plan what you will plant next spring. Perhaps some varieties of tomato plants produced abundant crops, while others didn’t do as well. Next year, plant what prospered to maximize your tomato output. You may also consider getting a soil test to see how your pH levels measure up, and what nutrients your soil may be lacking. These results can help you fine-tune your soil for the next planting season.
- Improve the Soil – Make sure to turn the soil up to about 12 inches deep. Don’t wait until spring to start adding nutrients to the soil to improve it either – doing so in late summer allows the ingredients to break down enough to be fully ready for the next season. It is recommended to use organic ingredients, such as compost and bone meal, to replace the nutrients that were depleted during the hot months, and not to add pesticides to your future crops. Amend soil and add mulch in areas that need new soil so that you have enough for the next planting season.
- Prepare Container Plants – Much to the relief of gardeners everywhere, container plants are usually pretty low maintenance, but it’s vital to prepare them before the first frost hits. Many glass containers in colder regions are prone to cracking if conditions become harsh enough, so it’s recommended that you wrap them in layers of thick blankets to insulate heat and push away the cold. You may also choose to bring your plants to an inside area (preferably your house, but a garage or shed will do) if the situation permits it.
Prepare for Fall Harvest in Warmer Climates
Those of us that reside in areas where it gets very cold in the winter will typically need to wait until next spring to replant. However, this isn’t the case for gardeners that live in states with warmer temperatures all year round, such as California and Texas. In addition to cleaning out their summer gardens, they’ll need to prepare for a second growing season. Plentiful autumn crops are required to be ready and in the ground by September, no later. Warm soil and cooler temperatures allow plants to use less energy to survive and grow, which is the prime time for certain species. These are great examples of what to grow during the fall harvest time in warm parts of the country:
Dr. Willard’s PlantCatalyst
Whatever season you’re planting in, one product you should always have on hand is Dr. Willard’s PlantCatalyst. This product, made with natural ingredients, promotes nutrient-absorption in plants, helping products such as fertilizers and nutrients supplement better growth. Not only does PlantCatalyst help crops grow faster and more abundantly, it promotes healthy root systems, stocks, and leaves.
A gardener’s job is never finished. Although your summer crops are coming to an end, you must now put the garden to bed by pulling out all the summer vegetables, cleaning up the garden, and possibly getting ready for a fall harvest if you live in a warm area. Use the tips above to have a healthy and beautiful garden all year long.