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End of the Gardening Season

The gardening season is pretty much done for this year. It is time to put away all the cute yard ornaments, clean up and store tools, and do the last few garden maintenance items. A couple things you might not think of – make sure to have hoses drained before it freezes and have flower pots all cleaned out too. If you are not quite ready to give up on being outside, you could decorate your pots for autumn.

To me though, the chill in the air says that it is time to do ‘inside’ things. I take a break from gardening for now, at least until the seed catalogs start arriving. Those catalogs seem to show up much earlier than they used to. At my house, the first few begin to trickle in right after Thanksgiving. I just cannot help myself, I start flipping through the pages and start dreaming of next year’s garden and flower beds.

It is helpful to have a plan for your garden’s layout. It will make spring planting go much smoother. When planning for your next garden, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Take account of the size of your garden. The size of your garden should depend on the space available and the amount of time you are willing and able to spend in it. You do not want it so large that it becomes a chore or so small it is not worth your time. I understand now why the pioneers had so many children – they needed them to just keep up on weeding!

Address the quality of your soil. It would be beneficial to get a soil test done. Fall is a great time to do the test. Once you have the results, you can apply the recommended nutrients to your soil and then come spring, you will be ready to go.

Choose a good location, full of sunlight and easily accessible to water. Full sun is a must for vegetables. It is absolutely necessary for producing healthy, high quality vegetables. Just as sunlight, having access to water is necessary. Water is crucial during the period of starting seeds or transplanting crops. It is also important throughout the growing season.

Research the vegetables you want to grow. There is no sense in growing vegetables that you or your family will not eat. Grow the foods you love, but make sure they can be grown in this area. There are many vegetables that can be replanted during the growing season too, allowing for fresh vegetables all summer long. Often, we are able to get three to four plantings of many vegetables; just plant a few seeds every few weeks. Read the back of the seed packet; those seed catalogs also have a lot of information in them.

Seed catalogs also offer some great ideas, with the use of a little imagination. If you are currently not receiving seed catalogs, simply visit the seed company’s website and request a catalog. I find they make some good winter reading. What could be better than to snuggle in with a cup of hot cocoa, a warm blanket, a few seed catalogs and start dreaming of spring and planning that perfect garden?

For additional dreaming and planning, NDSU Extension has a wonderful publication on gardening called Gardening Delights for All: Nontraditional, Money-saving, Sustainable Gardening (H1600). It has all the information you need for successful gardening. There are some other fun websites out there that offer different ideas on companion planting and garden layout; however, they have not been researched by NDSU and results may vary.

In the winter months, I do a little more than just dream about spring; I do a little prep and maintenance work on my tools. I make the occasional trek out to my gardening shed, no not a she-shed, and bring in my gardening tools to give them a good once over. My tools get a fresh coat of pink paint, which unfortunately does not detour my husband or son from taking them, it just makes it much easier to find at my son’s house or whereever my husband decides to leave them lay. In addition to some fresh paint, I also sharpen my clippers, shovel, and hoes and all the metal gets a good rub down with some left-over motor oil, drained during an oil change.

With that being said, there is not much else to do or talk about until the new gardening season gets closer. I would like to thank you for allowing me to come into your home every week and I enjoyed answering all of your gardening questions this year. If you do have a question that comes up over the winter months, you can always contact your local NDSU Extension office or go online to ask.extension.org. So, folks, until we meet again, “Happy Gardening”!

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