So you missed out on summer gardening...

by - September 23, 2011

If you missed out on gardening this summer, don't sweat it. It was hot - very hot - and the mosquitoes are still biting. However, now you have two options. You can either go ahead and plant some fall crops, or you can skip that all together and begin to prepare your soil for the spring. If you are starting a new in-ground garden (not a raised bed), I suggest you wait to plant. Because our garden was brand-spankin-new this past spring, the soil was lousy. We didn't have the benefit of fall tillage, mulching and composting and the winter rest, so the soil was not very forgiving. We harvested ZERO peppers from the 15+ plants growing. Last year, we had a bumper crop of bells grown in a raised bed.

Here are some ideas for getting the soil ready:

  1. Go ahead and till up your garden plot. Loosen the soil now before the ground gets hard.
  2. Remove the weeds. Whether this is a new garden plot or not, there are going to be weeds and grasses. It's better to start the maintenance now than in the spring when they can really take off.
  3. Don't rake the leaves off the garden. Let the leaves fall, and early in the spring, turn them over into the soil.
  4. Dr. Will Hooker of NCSU suggests doing a little leaf importing as well. Those bagged of leaves your neighbors leave for the city to collect? Collect them! Do ask first of course, because some people don't take too kindly to having their yard waste snatched by random people. Put these into your compost pile or mow them over and scatter them in the garden.
  5. A worker at my local garden store suggested getting a couple bales of hay and letting them sit all winter. In the early spring once they have begun to decompose, turn them into the garden soil or use the decomposing straw as mulch. Make sure it is clean straw and not too weedy as it could reseed itself and create more work for you.
In our garden this fall, about half the garden is being rested and the other half is being used for lettuces and root crops. Once the frost comes, we will begin composting and straw mulching heavily. I may set the bales of hay right on top of the beds so I don't have to worry about dragging them back and forth across the yard.

Do you have any more tips to offer? I'm always looking for ideas!

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  1. Leaf importing - a great idea! Also, shred those leaves to give them a "head start" towards decomposition. A nice thick layer still acts as mulch. :-)

    You are doing great things! Keep it up!!



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