You’ve spent months preparing and growing your vegetable and flower beds. Now comes the time to harvest, maintain, and prepare for the next growing season.
Michigan’s climate lends itself to a lot of variety when it comes to crops and flowers. Being strategic about how you plan your work will make your efforts more efficient while giving you time to enjoy the fruits (veggies and blooms) of your labor. Throughout this series, I’ll provide a few examples of popular plants for a given season or purpose. If you’re curious about other plants that fit these categories, please give Willow Greenhouse a call.
July & August
It’s the dog days of summer, so you’ll be watering more regularly and still pulling weeds. You’re probably pretty happy if you followed my recommendations to do a slow-release, in-ground fertilizer. If you didn’t, now is when you’ll want to make sure you’re giving your plants those extra nutrients, with your flowers in full bloom and everything working harder to thrive.
Your lettuces are going to turn bitter and start bolting (flowering and going to seed). Now is the time to pull out the old ones, and just go ahead and re-sow. Broccoli, cabbage, snap peas, are all great for a second crop in the fall.
You can also do some thinning of your tomato plant, pulling suckers (small shoots or leaves that sprout from where the stem and the branch of a tomato plant meet.) By doing so, the tomato plant and focus its energy on producing fruit.
September & October
You’ll start to see blooms drop, spots on leaves, and other signs that its time pull your plants and prepare for any fall planting that you want to do. Any of the cold crops you planted in April can be re-sowed during this time.
- Ornamental cabbage
Now is also a great time to get perennials and shrubs in the ground. You can usually get some good deals and they’re demanding less water. At Willow, we offer great deals on plants that are a little smaller that will be ready for spring.
November & December
I try to pull my vegetables before that first frost in late October to the middle of November. Once you wait, all that tender stuff that you planted in May turns to mush and becomes a huge mess when trying to clean up your vegetable bed. I’m watching the weather and if drops into the 30s at night, I get out there and pull the whole bed. Get it all out of there while the stems are still nice and firm. The same thing goes for your flowering annuals.
I usually wait until leaves have fallen to do my fall pruning, just so I can see the structure of the stems. It’s easier to see the skeleton of the plant and determine what I want the plant to look like. At this time, I’m also cutting my perennials back. I try to do as much as I can, so I don’t have to monkey with it in the spring.
To help reduce erosion, throw some leaves or straw on top of your vegetable bed. This will help prevent your soil from washing or blowing away. Some organic gardeners will also plant a cover crop, like clover or rye, which you can till into the soil in the spring.
Ornamental beds are a little more resistant to erosion because they usually have some plants that help keep the structure. A light layer of mulch, if you have it, is all you need.