by Janine Butler, Garden Volunteer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Yes, you read that correctly. The heat of summer may only just be over, and many people are looking forward to the cooler weather of fall, but smart gardeners are already thinking about spring!
Here at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden vegetable garden we are planning ahead so that next spring we will have an even more successful harvest than we did this year. The plants are dying down and in the next week or two we will pull out all the remaining dead plants. You are probably doing the same at home in your own garden.
But before you do, think about what you might want to plant next year. Take a photograph of your vegetable garden, or draw a quick sketch, marking the locations of the plants. Write a few notes about the plants you planted such as the varieties, fertilization techniques, plant yield etc. Jot down anything that might help you for next year, noting your successes and failures. Did it rain a lot? Did you over water? Did you go on vacation and forget to arrange for a neighbor or friend to stop by and keep an eye on the plants? When exactly did you plant? You might think that you will remember all this information, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few memory joggers!
Next year we are planning on planting tomatoes and squash again because they were so successful this year. However, tomatoes ideally should not be planted in the same location year after year, so making a sketch of the plant layout will ensure that we put them in a different spot.
Also, something else that we will be doing in preparation for spring is planting a ground cover crop soon after we remove all the old plants. We haven’t decided yet exactly what to plant, but it will be something that will prevent too much weed growth over winter, and it should also be of value to the soil ready for new plants next year. This ground cover crop concept is also known as green manure.
There’s still work to be done in the garden, but starting in October the volunteer workdays will change to Saturday mornings 9-12pm only, running through November. Anyone and everyone is still welcome to come join in. We are looking forward to harvesting cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower in the coming weeks, and still hope to make our 10,000 lb goal for donations this year to the Community Kitchen Garden. In the mood to get your hands dirty? Come join us for these last few weeks of fall vegetable gardening.