Yes, I am fully aware that we are in November. There may be several gardeners that did plant cold season crops, but for the majority, gardening season was finished months ago.

The ground is also getting colder and damp. This can be a great time for vegetable gardeners to plan for 2022 gardening success.

Most folks have heard the phrase, “The early bird catches the worm”. I think that same phrase can easily be related to vegetable gardening. Preparation out of season can be a key to having success when the spring and summer vegetable growing season is here.

You want all of the planning to be done when it is time to get to work in the garden spot.

Today, I will be sharing reminders from a UGA publication by Bob Westerfield, UGA Extension Horticulturist and David Linvill, UGA Extension Agent. For starters, this article may be one where I try to get you thinking and have you answer questions on the current status of your garden spot.

You may have to go back into your memory bank on how the growing season went in 2021. I think the first point to consider is the actual vegetable garden site. Where is the garden area in the landscape? It does not matter if you are growing in raised beds or in the actual ground, but where the garden is located is a big key in your success or failure.

Does the area provide at least 8 to 10 hours of sunlight in the growing season per day? You do not want to grow vegetables in shade. Sunlight is needed for growth and will help dry plant foliage after a rain. How close is your vegetable garden to a clean water source? It is suggested to have the garden close enough to the house so you can provide clean water in times you need to irrigate.

How well-draining is the area of excess water? Overall 2021 has been a wet year. You should know by now if your garden area drains excess water well after rain events. How much do you have to battle weeds such as nutsedge and bermuda grass? Ideally, you pick a garden spot that is fairly weed free in the first place.

My daughters have always played basketball. For them there has never an off season. Each were either playing on a school team, travel team or doing their own workouts all year. Lindsay is playing college basketball now. This can relate to successful vegetable gardeners, because there is always something to do in the garden spot just like an athlete is preparing their sports success.

In the non-growing season, a gardener may plant a cover crop to help the soil. They also may take the time to repair or replace tools or may need to get equipment such as a garden tiller serviced or repaired. In March and April, it is not the time to remember the tiller needs major repair or you need to replace a broken handle on a garden tool.

Find the time to get those needed tools and other equipment ready to go for spring. You may can add new garden items to a Christmas wish list. Do you keep planting charts or make notes on what you planted the year before? Keeping records of where you planted garden types or varieties may help you in crop rotation decisions.

Also, you can keep records of varieties that worked well for you and maybe some that you do not want to plant in the future. Our information suggests to plan your garden on paper before ordering seed.

Also, if the garden area is small, you may want to select crops that you like more and even consider using some of the dwarf compact varieties that can give you the production you want on a few plants. You may choose to plant another in-season crop soon after the last harvest is completed in your garden area. Our information also adds that you may want to plant your tall growing plants together on the north or west side of the garden so they will not shade out the lower growing vegetable plants. The key is to plan.

When is the last time you conducted a soil test on your vegetable garden area? For some the answer will be not in a long time or never. There really is no reason to not take a soil sample. First, sending a properly taken soil sample to the UGA Soil Test Lab is economical. It will cost you $9. Postage is included in the fee.

We can send you a very easy to follow soil sampling two-page circular by email or mail that will go over the sample collection procedure. The circular will even have simple sample collection diagrams. When you collect and dry the needed sample, you will bring the sample to us and we will take it from there.

Results should come back in 5 to 6 working days. Why guess on the liming and fertilizing of your garden? A soil test will give accurate recommendations if you take the samples correctly. Providing lime at the recommended rate and also using the right type and rate of fertilizer can be a big key in having gardening success for 2022. Now, can be an ideal time to soil sample. We even have soil probes that can be checked out to help you when collecting samples.

How do you irrigate your vegetable garden? In our part of the world, there is a lot of heat, humidity and disease pathogens already in place. If you irrigate improperly, you may add the last key ingredient to get disease started in your garden. I know using a sprinkler to irrigate the garden can be easy, cheap and quick. It can also cause you problems if you irrigate with a sprinkler at the wrong time a of day. In theory, we want to keep the foliage of vegetable plants dry.

Sure, we get rainfall and dew will set in the evenings, but using sprinklers to irrigate at the wrong time of day can be problematic. It is much more efficient and better to irrigate with soaker hoses or irrigation tape. This will apply water to the plant roots and will help keep plant foliage dry. You will lose less water to evaporation with soaker hoses or irrigation tape and may cut down on disease issues. If you must use a sprinkler, try to do so early in the morning so the sunshine can dry the foliage sooner.

Using a sprinkler later in the afternoon will extend the amount of time foliage is wet and can cause more chances of disease establishment.

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

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