In the Edible Garden: Cover strawberries with straw after the ground freezes. Create a journal to record what worked in ‘07. Be specific about varieties that performed well. If possible, record soil amendments to track how beds perform next year.
In the Edible Garden: Place all weeds, leaves and disease-free dead plant material in the compost pile. Clean and store all your garden equipment and tools.
In the Edible Garden: Dig up vegetable garden after killing frost and incorporate a 2-4 inch layer of organic matter. Plants left in the garden will serve as over wintering sites for insects. Do not compost diseased plants. Compost rarely reaches temperatures required to kill most plant pathogens. Bag or burn the diseased plant material.
In the Edible Garden: Fall is the ideal time to have your soil tested since this is the slow season for labs. For a free soil testing kit, call 773-233-0476. Plant a green manure crop such as oats or rye in vacant garden areas to add organic matter to the soil. Till into the soil in the spring. For a listing of seed sources for green manure crops, call 773-233-0476.
In the Edible Garden: Sow radish, lettuce, spinach, beet and turnip seed late in the month. If you have an empty area in the garden, consider planting a green manure crop. Sow seeds of oats, rye or buckwheat. When dug or tilled into the soil in the spring, green manure crops improve soil structure and add nutrients.Plant a final crop of beans in early August. Keep germinating seeds moist.
In the Edible Garden: Plant late season vegetables by mid-July. Note the number of “days to harvest” indicated on seed packets. Direct seed beets, beans, collards, cucumbers, summer squash and cabbage. Check out the University of Illinois Extension website, “Common Problems for Vegetable Crops”.
In the Edible Garden: Stop harvesting rhubarb and asparagus to allow foliage to develop and store food reserves for next year’s harvest. When crops like squash & cucumbers are planted in a circle or hill, place a stick upright in the middle of the circle & leave it there. Later on you’ll know where to water the main roots hidden under the vines.
In the Edible Garden: Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, melons, peppers & eggplant need at least 8 hrs. of sunlight for best fruit production. Plant warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and vine crops after mid-May.Control cucumber beetles, carriers of cucumber wilt, as soon as cucumbers germinate to prevent disease. This disease will cause plants to wilt and die just as cucumbers start producing.
In the Edible Garden: Harden off transplants before planting outdoors. Gradually expose plants to outdoor conditions over a 5-7 day period. Plant late varieties of potatoes on top of the ground in straw.
In the Edible Garden: Plant onion sets in late March. Till vegetable beds. Never till the soil when wet. Try the soil squeeze test first. Take a handful of soil and squeeze. If the soil forms a ball, let it dry for 2-3 days. If it crumbles easily through your hand, it is ready to till.
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On a sunny winter day a few years ago, I strolled into our Palos-area garden looking for signs of snowdrops