Here is a handy checklist of all the things you should be doing to prepare your vegetable gardens for next year. The more you do in the dead of autumn, the less you need to do during the busy spring months. Do you need help with some of the things on the to-do list?
The Fall Vegetable Garden Checklist
√ Make Leaf Mold
Rake up those autumn leaves to make leaf mold and cover beds with last year’s leaf mold.
√ Remove Spent Companion Annuals
If you plant annual flowers as part of your vegetable garden’s companion planting, be sure to remove the spent annuals and compost them. You may be able to heavily mulch your annuals or bring them indoors to overwinter them.
√ Test Your Soil
Run a soil test on your beds and amend as necessary. Some amendments take a while to incorporate into the soil and some may need to be applied again in the spring for the best results.
√ Apply Your Autumn Manure
If you are working with a “hot” manure (such as chicken manure), you may want to add it in the fall so it has a chance to “cool” before spring planting.
√ Make Structural Repairs
If critters in the garden were a problem this year, you may want to fix the fence or build a new fence before the end of the season. Spring is a busy time of year to fit in a large project. I love this idea I found on Grit and will probably try it to keep chickens out next year.
√ Turn Your Compost
Unless your chickens are doing the work for you, give your compost pile a good turning before it freezes solid.
√ Keep Great Records
Create a garden journal or check out The Gardening Notebook by Schneider Peeps, which is chock full of great gardening tips and tricks and offers places for garden planning and notes. By knowing what worked this year (and what didn’t) you can replicate the good things next year.
Keep These Things in Mind
If you had disease or pests on a particular plant, do not compost it. Microbes, insect larvae, and disease could be transferred to your compost bin. Powdery mildew is one of those things that you want to burn. Do not compost infected foliage.
If you planted a fall bulb crop (such as garlic), make sure to mark its location. In the fall you might remember where you put it, but a long winter means you often forget. There is nothing more discouraging than digging up your garlic when you’re planting your tomatoes in the spring. Trust me, I know this from personal experience. You’ll also want to heavily mulch your overwintering crops. Leaf mold is great for that.