Friday, October 7, 2016

Planning Your Garden for Next Year by Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Carol King
As we approach fall, most of us are busy doing cleanup of our summer garden. Since gardening can take time, effort and money to maintain, it is a good idea now to make a list of those vegetables or fruits that you want to plant again and the ones that you will eliminate.
Make two columns for your list, and label one column “keep” and "eliminate" in the other column. Even though you may be well aware now of what you didn’t want to plant again, after a few months of busy fall and winter activities, it might help to have a list to refer to so you remember some key issues.
For example, maybe this year you planted kale only to find that you, your family or friends didn’t like it. There is no point to plant anything that takes up garden space that won’t be eaten or appreciated. So you might want to put kale in the eliminate column. Also, if you like zucchini but don’t need bushels of it, you can make note to have only one plant next season. Anything that was a hit can go into the keep column.
Since many people can have limited time spent in the garden, any plant that was more high maintenance than you could handle should be considered on the cut list. If you had to spend a lot of time and money on certain plants, you can consider that maybe they are not worth trying to repeat them. And since our growing season can be shorter than some areas, having tomatoes for example that don’t produce until September may not be a smart choice either unless you find that they are worth the wait!

One advantage of the “keep list” is that as you grow new plants, you can find which plants grow well in our area - ones that best tolerate the weather and soil and that produce in a reasonable amount of time. If the plants are heirloom and open pollinated, you can save the seed and plant again each year to enjoy.
Before completely eliminating something, you may try another method of growing. See the Plant Talk notes below about kale. Here in the front range of Colorado, if you plant the kale in the spring, the results may not be as appealing as a fall grown plant. Also some vegetables can taste better raw or cooked, so if you have eaten kale for example raw in salads, try it cooked.
As the seed catalogues begin to arrive in your mailbox in a few months, you will want to have some notes like these to help you decide on which plants you do and do not want to try again. This will save you a lot of time and garden space so that you dedicate your next vegetable and fruit garden to varieties that you will enjoy all season.
Here are some great tip sheets on growing kale, saving seeds and some cool weather loving plants: