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Fall In the Vegetable Garden - Looking Forward to Next Spring

In the Vegetable Garden - Looking Toward 2018, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights October 2017.
Trellising, such as this melon support structure, is a good technique to get plants up off the ground and increase air flow around the foliage.

Fall is the time to be looking at successes and failures in this year's vegetable garden, planning ahead to increase yields next year. Especially for spring and summer crops, an activity that will pay dividends is to make simple notes about the health, vigor, productivity and size of each plant grouping in the garden.

Healthy Plants Produce Healthy Crops
Here are some tasks you can do this fall to improve your vegetable garden next year.

  • Good soil amendment in the fall before planting or in early spring with aged manure and compost help to reduce the need for added fertilizers during the growing season.

  • Creating a growing environment that allows for adequate drying of the foliage and stems of the plants is always helpful to reduce the potential for diseases. Trellising, pruning and proper spacing are good techniques in this regard, as they allow for increased air flow and reduce the soil surface to crop contact.

Diagnose Before You Treat
If you had disease or insect problems in your vegetable garden this year, there's a chance you will have the same problems next year. Be prepared if they reoccur. 

When plants become sickly, it may be due to an insect or disease, but could be caused by a non-living factor as well. Jumping to a conclusion that an insecticide or fungicide must be applied can be problematic by adding unnecessary and potentially harmful materials into the environment.

When faced with an unknown malady, it’s wise to take the time to research the situation by contacting the Nebraska Extension office in your county or by searching the web for a land grant university by using “.edu” at the end of your search phrase.

Have Your Reached the Treatment Threshold?
If a pest is the culprit, determining the need for a pest control agent or threshold of injury is a good first step after identifying the actual pest involved. If just a few insects are involved, perhaps hand removal is a better approach than spraying the entire garden with an insecticide.

If the level of infestation is greater, determining the best timing for an application is important as well as which product will produce the best results with the least impact on the environment is certainly a good agricultural practice.

Always Read the Label!
Finally, reading the pesticide label is always a good practice, noting instructions such as timing, rate, application technique, which crops can be sprayed with the product and which ones can’t and the time between application and safe harvest.

John Fech
John Fech
Extension Educator - Horticulture
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.

Contact John at:
Douglas/Sarpy County Extension
8015 W Center Road
Omaha, NE 68124-3175
(402) 444-7804

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