Taking Stock of the Garden

The gardening season is over, at least for us here in Colorado. Our September snowfall put an early end to beans,  tomatoes, and summer squash. Hardier veggies (and, unfortunately, most weeds) survived, but haven’t grown since the weather turned cool. Carrots are waiting under their mulch layer for winter harvesting; garlic has been harvested and next year’s crop replanted.

With much shoveling and sneezing (I’m allergic to chickens), the broken-down, soiled straw in the chicken coop has been distributed over my garden beds and dug in, adding nutrients and organic matter to enrich my soil. A thicker layer of newer straw mulch keeps my earthworms happy and protects against insect pests that are waiting lay their eggs underground.

It’s finally time to lay down the shovel, step back and take stock. How did the garden do this year? What did we have too much of (not zucchini, for once)? What were we lacking? How did the new varieties I trialed compare to my tried-and-true favorites? What should I do the same next year? What should I change?

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Putting Your Garden to Bed

Early fall weather brings an invigorating briskness that invites us back into our gardens. Don’t resist. There is plenty to do:

  • carrot-sleeping-in-bedSpending time now on chores such as weeding and garden cleanup will reward you many times over when spring arrives.
  • Amending your soil this fall will give you a head start on next year’s garden.
  • Fall is also a great time to build a new patio or raised bed.
  • Protecting your less-hardy plants will increase the odds of them surviving a Colorado winter.
  • Finally, winter’s cold weather is a great time to read articles, take classes, and prowl the Internet to become a more knowledgeable gardener. Your county Master Gardeners are there to help, with research-based information that is tailored to your specific growing concerns.

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