Planning on Planting
December is here, the cold is upon us and the seed catalogs are being mailed to all of the avid gardeners around the country. This is the time of year that we begin to start dreaming about next year’s garden and all of the produce that you will be able to harvest. People all around the county are asking one basic question… What should I be doing to my garden to ensure that I have an even better harvest next year? Well, the answer is simple… Planning.
As children, we are all told that failing to plan is the same as planning to fail. As a rebellious young man, I never quite understood that saying until I began to garden. Gardeners should have a calendar devoted to their horticultural endeavors. Simple record keeping can turn a slim harvest into a bumper crop. Knowing how long a particular crop needs to grow allows the gardener to properly plan their planting and harvesting dates. By appropriately scheduling these two activities, your garden can reach its full potential. Once it is known when certain plants will enter and exit the garden, it is possible to reduce empty garden space and fill unused areas with rapidly growing cover crops. Keeping your garden at full capacity will increase the amount of crops you are able to harvest throughout the year as well as boost the health and vitality of your soil. Cover crops also are a great way to decrease the amount of fertilizer your garden needs. In order to fully measure your true fertilizer needs, it is important to preform a soil test through the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
Soil testing here in North Carolina is a very important part of managing any agricultural operation. Routine soil tests will provide you with a better idea of what nutrients are currently available to your plants and the relative condition of your soil. When these tests are preformed, it is important to indicate what crops you plan on growing so that the recommendations can be tailored to your individual needs. Soil test results will inform you about the amount of additional nutrients that need to be supplied to the soil in order to get the most out of the particular crop you plan on growing.
Planning is also important because it can accurately track the past to ensure a happy future. All of us gardeners know that crop rotation is an invaluable tool, allowing us to avoid disease problems and reduce our total monetary input. Keeping an accurate record of your past plantings will allow you to remember where you have planted in the past and how those crops preformed. Digital cameras are a great way of tracking your garden’s history. By taking photos of your garden, you can create a simple way of recording where plants were grown and past insect and disease problems you have faced.
Here at the Cooperative Extension Service, we are dedicated to helping you in all of your agricultural and horticultural endeavors. Please feel free to contact us with any questions that we can help you with at (336) 318-6000 or in person at 112 West Walker Avenue here in Asheboro.