Greg Bowman

Before I get into the topic of the day, I wanted to promote an upcoming Lunch and Learn class to be held at the Calhoun-Gordon County Library on Sept. 19 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. I will be giving a presentation on composting and mulching. Composting is a great way to turn landscape debris into something valuable plus keep material out of our landfills. The class is free and all you have to do is contact the office at 706-629-8685 to get on the list. Don’t forget to bring your lunch. Hope to see you on Sept. 19 at the Calhoun-Gordon County Library.

As we get closer to fall, many of our vegetable gardening efforts will draw to a close. I know a few of you will plant fall vegetable gardens, but most will close down until next spring. I know there will be many football games, holidays and other activities before next growing season, but chores you complete soon can be important to your vegetable gardening success in 2018. I will be sharing a few tips from the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture and UGA Horticulturist, Bob Westerfield.

For starters, I would do some record keeping. Make a list of the varieties you planted in 2017 and you even can make a chart of where you planted your vegetable items in the garden area. You may want to note what varieties worked well and which ones did not. Record keeping takes away a person forgetting these important details the next growing season. This information may help you in selecting varieties for next year, plus can help you in making your crop rotation plans in the spot, too.

It is a good idea to clean up the vegetable garden. I would especially pull up and remove any vegetable plants that may have disease or were infested with insects. If you leave these plants, they could be overwintering homes for disease and insects. If you had disease problems, for example with a certain variety, you could have the same issues next year by leaving those plants in the garden spot over winter.

Fall is a great time to add compost or other organic matter and incorporate into the soil. This added material can help improve aeration, drainage and build organic matter in the garden soil. Fallen leaves in the upcoming months can be added to vegetable garden areas, too. If you have more leaves than you can put in your garden area, you can chop them up with your lawn mower and put them in your compost piles for future use. Take advantage of this great resource instead of burning them when the local burn ban lifts this fall.

Soil testing is also a great late summer or early fall chore. Soil testing is simply an economical way to see what is going on in your soil profile. A sample sent to the UGA Soil Lab in Athens is only $9. We can guide you through the sampling procedure. The results come back in approximately seven working days and will give you fertilization recommendations for next growing season. If the soil pH is off, you will be given liming recommendations. Lime reacts slowly in the soil, so many times a proper lime application in the fall can have soil pH in a workable range for the next growing season.

Don’t forget about your vegetable gardening tools and equipment. If you have hoses that are only used for garden irrigation, make sure they are drained of water and stored. If you leave a hose outside, they can freeze and crack, making them unusable in 2018. It is also suggested to empty the gas tank on any of your gas powered gardening tools. You can also wipe down and clean your tools and equipment before storing inside for the winter months. Westerfield adds to scrap dirt from shovel, hoes and trowels and clean with soapy water. You should wipe metal surfaces with an oily rag and clean wooden handles with linseed oil.

The off season is the time to get dull blades sharpened and make repair efforts on damaged equipment. Nothing is more disappointing than to forget your tiller needed some repair work and then not be usable in spring. Most folks will have a small storage building or area to store all of the tools and equipment. Try to hang lightweight tools on the wall to save on space. I would take an inventory of your gardening tools and equipment also. This will help you remember where each is located in the storage space when vegetable gardening season starts up again next year.

Finally, start making a list of what you want to grow in the spot next season and how many transplants you will need.

For more information, contact UGA Extension- Gordon County at 706-629-8685 or email gbowman@uga.edu.