The growing season in the Mid-Atlantic United States is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean we stop working. Whether it’s growing indoors, winterizing warm weather plants, building greenhouses, or just planning for next spring, there is always something to be done.
Some leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, cabbage or kale can be grown in late fall and even through winter. Onions are also capable of doing well in colder weather. Covering your plants with plastic, or building a greenhouse can help prolong your growing season. The extra layer helps to protect your veggies from frost overnight and provides a greenhouse effect during the daylight hours.
Winterizing plants such as hot peppers allows them to hibernate through the colder months and have a head start the following spring. Some species of peppers are perennials and can live for several years with the right care. Cut your plants back before the first frost, leaving only a few small leaves to continue to photosynthesize. You can also move your plants indoors to extend their production.
If your garden is outside, and it has stopped producing, fall is a good time to till the soil one last time and prepare for next year. The slash and burn technique has been used for thousands of years. Burning your garden and adding some fresh manure in the fall helps to compost the green matter while adding fresh nutrients to the soil. The benefit to doing this months ahead of time is that it allows the nitrogen levels, from the ash and manure, to balance out, and your soil while be primed for planting in the spring.
Fall is also a good time to organize and label any seeds you have saved from this past season. Hybridizing tomatoes and peppers is a popular hobby for many growers and selling or trading heirloom seeds has become much more accessible through social media outlets like Twitter and Instagram. The online gardening community is growing every day and there is plenty of helpful information out there for the newbie and expert alike.
So, get started on your winter garden or seed storage today. Greenhouses and other equipment are available at local home improvement stores as well as online.