It is not in doing what you like,
but in liking what you do that is the secret to happiness.
Sir James M. Barrie
It is the last day of September and I have to admit, after gardening this past summer in the dust, I’m looking forward to a long cool autumn to re-energize my overheated body and sun-leathered skin. Some gardeners that I have talked to over the past few weeks said they gave up long ago on their gardens. “Too hot! Too dry! Maybe next year.” I detected slight sounds of guilt in their cracking, squeaking, high pitched voices. In the community garden I belong to, many people abandoned their garden over the summer. I’m so confused. How could anyone give up on gardening? I didn’t know that it ever ended. Could these just be the crazy thoughts of an obsessed gardener? There must be a devil and angel gardener on my shoulders. I’ll be the first to admit, I wanted to give up too, but something (or someone) kept me going. “Patti…you need to go out in the garden…you will know what to do when you get out there.” These were some of the whispers that would haunt my ears. Ok, alright! I would go out, and before I knew it, hours would pass. I lose track of time, and get lost in the many things that occur in this amazing world. For me, gardening is never done, and this is the best time of year to prep the garden for next year. Here are a few things to remember to do this autumn before you decide to hang up your shovel for the year.
- Weed, weed, weed! Perennial weeds are growing like gangbusters and will spend the winter months sending their roots deeper into the soil. Make sure you remove all weeds! Annual weeds have flowered and set seed. You don’t want these to disperse in your garden. The key to eliminating weed problems is to clean, clean, clean!
- Aerate the soil. This can be done with a spade or fork. Gently lifting the soil while weeding or adding amendments will be sufficient. You could also use a shovel, broadfork, or small tiller.
- Amend the soil. Autumn is the best time to add bone meal, greensand, and rock phosphate which will improve soil fertility in a sustainable earth friendly way. Follow directions on the bag for amounts. You can find this in local garden centers and nurseries. Save composting for spring time.
- If you experienced a drought this past growing season, it would help to water your garden. Hopefully we will get a good snow this year to help build the low soil water content.
- Get your soil tested. Now is a good time to get your soil tested by your local county extension. This can also be done in the spring. Be consistent from year to year. If you have it done in the spring, then continue to do so.
So, to answer the question, “are we done gardening yet?”.
The answer from me is, “NEVER!”
Happy Autumn Gardening!