ORIGINALLY WRITTEN STEVE TONN
So you’re done toiling in your garden for another year. All of that fine produce you worked diligently to grow over the months is now stocked away in safe storage, or the family’s appetites have already made short work of it.
The time has come when you can simply forget about your garden until next spring, right? Well, you could pass off thoughts of gardening for a few months, but if you want to see a better garden in your backyard next year, the time to plan ahead is now.
Gardeners still have the opportunity to make a compost pile with leaves, garden clippings, stalks and other trash. Mixed with organic materials, they make compost for use as a soil conditioner and fertilizer.
If you want a container for the waste material, construct a bin from scrap wood, cement blocks, wire or fence. The most common size of compost bin is a four-foot bin with sides four feet long.
Add three or four pounds of complete garden fertilizer per 100 pounds of material to speed the rotting process, keeping the compost uncovered so it will stay moist. Add water to the pile during dry weather and turn or mix the contents every two or three weeks. Rotting is usually completed in three or four months.
Compost supplies nutrients to plants and makes the soil more loose and easier to till. It can also be used as a mulch later in the growing season.
Another fall task is to take a look back at how the various vegetables fared in your plot this year. Write down some notes on which varieties of crops really produced, which ones tolerated the heat and drought better, and which ones performed poorly.
Also, draw out a map of your garden, one which indicates exactly where each vegetable plot was located. Just as in field crop production, it pays to rotate garden crops from one section of soil to another. Next year you will know where to locate different crops rather than relying on your memory.
A third task is to clean your sprayer and gardening tools and get them ready for winter storage. A little maintenance and care will extend the life of your sprayer and tools.
Finally, make sure you also put your pesticides away for the winter. Powdered materials should be placed in a cool, dry location, in containers that are tightly sealed to prevent moisture from getting into the containers.
Liquid materials should be moved to a location where they will not freeze, such as a cellar or basement. Check containers for leakage or damage before putting the materials in their storage locations.
Follow package directions for disposing of any damaged packages and make sure these are disposed of, rather than trying to store a leaking container.