Just because you have eaten all the cucumbers, tomatoes and
zucchini you can stand doesn't mean it's time to give up on your
garden. If you aren’t planting a fall vegetable garden, make sure
you do a few things now to ensure your garden plot will be ready
in the spring.
First, pull up all weeds and spent vegetable plants. Remove them
from the area and dispose of them. Don't add this waste to your
compost pile. As the weather cools, it's likely that your compost pile will,
too. It may not get hot enough to destroy weed seeds, diseases or
insect eggs. If you've used mulch in your garden and had disease
or insect problems, remove the mulch to prevent infestations next
Next, take a soil sample to see what the nutrient levels are in
your garden. Depending on the soil type, nutrients like
phosphorus don't leach very much from year to year. Soil test
tell you just the right type and amount of fertilizer and
amendments your soil needs. Considering the current cost of
fertilizer, that can save you a lot of money.
To get a good soil sample, University of Georgia Cooperative
Extension experts suggest taking a small amount of soil from
about 10 random locations within the garden. Using a trowel,
collect a sample from up to 6 inches deep.
Avoid using tools or buckets that have been used for mixing or
applying lime or fertilizer as this can affect your results. Mix
the random samples together in a clean bucket and remove any
thatch, plant roots or mulch.
Pour 1 to 2 cups of this mixed sample into a soil sample bag.
These sample bags are available at your local UGA Extension office.
Transport soil in a clean, paper, lunch-type sack and transfer it
to an official sample bag at the Extension office. The fee for
basic soil testing is usually less than $10 and the information
you learn will save you money in the long run.
The soil sample report will show the amount of fertilizer and
lime you'll need based on your sample and the crops you plan to
If you aren't going to plant in your garden this fall, you'll
likely only need to add lime now. Adding lime in the fall gives
the soil pH time to react and adjust. You can wait to add the
recommended fertilizer in the spring when your vegetables can use it.
Once your garden is clean, put away garden tools and hoses, relax
and wait for spring.
Krissy Slagle is a state Extension program assistant with the
University of Georgia Master Gardener Program