Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Falling into Autumn

With beets, spinach, turnips and other crops done, it’s time to think about what’s next. Indeed, one of the joys of gardening is understanding the seasonal evolution. Many of us can’t wait to get in the garden in the spring – admittedly, long winters in Western New York make me long for the soil.

The most productive garden has a progression. For example, those areas where I’ve harvested can be replanted with fall crops, but only after being kind to the soil. For an 8-foot row, I work in about 15-pounds of rotted cow manure and the same of compost. Other areas need to sit tight
until spring.

Its good to work on the premise that adding organic matter is the answer to most soil concerns.
Cornell Cooperative Extension volunteers offer soil testing at farm markets on a regular basis.

Usually analysis is free. Take full advantage. Gardening is a continual experiment. Some things go well, others not so much. Try some companion planting. For example, a fast crop like spinach, once established, will tolerate broccoli nearby. As the spinach finishes, the broccoli will begin to take over. As late summer stays cool and turns to fall, that broccoli will yield. And if they don’t grow forth and prosper as we evolve into fall, that’s OK. Learn from it. This is an experiment, four more packages of seeds will be in the mail next month.

It’s also time to plant the new garlic crop. I rotate garlic to different areas of the garden, depending on the year, but it is the easiest and most rewarding crop in the garden. Start with hard neck garlic cloves, preferably from your area. Look for a variety like Rocombole, Polish White, German Red or Russian at a farm stand. Avoid the stuff from the grocery store. Work in good helpings of manure and compost and plant one clove at a time, 6-8 inches apart, anytime between now and early November.

You will see beautiful plants in early spring and it may be the easiest thing you have ever grown.

Joe Genco is a contributing writer and financial advisor. You can contact him at

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1 comment:

  1. Great post. We long for the soil in Spring with our long winters here too in Oxford, UK! Also planting garlic.

    thanks - we love your blog!