August 27, 2012

Time to take note of garden

By JOLENE WALLACE, Cornell Cooperative Extension

---- — This is the perfect time of year to take an objective look at your flower and vegetable beds. 

If they look as good as you had hoped they would when you planted in the spring, make notes or take photos so that you know what you want to repeat next year. If you need to rotate your vegetable crops in the spring, it helps to know where they were last year and this year and where you want to plant them next year. As much as we would like to think we’ll remember, sometimes we don’t.

If you had great success with particular varieties and want to plant them next year, write down what you planted along with any ideas about staking, trellising or spacing. 

If you were unhappy or disappointed with something you planted, make note of those varieties and the reasons you were not happy. If you had a problem that can be alleviated next year by choosing a pest- or disease-resistant variety or by increasing spacing between plants, now is the time to note it. A shorter time between germination and harvest or successive plantings may better fit your needs. 

My perennial beds started off great but soon showed signs of being overcrowded with plants that seriously needed dividing. I didn’t divide anything last spring, although I knew that my salvia, Clara Curtis daisy and cornflower would benefit from it.

I figured that they would just be a little fuller this year and that I could hold off for another year. I figured wrong! I have very large plants, but they don’t look as nice as they should. They are too big for the space they have, so they are crowded

and floppy, not getting enough air circulation and pressuring the plants around them. To make matters worse, they are all in the same bed. I have cut them back, apologized to them and put them on my list of plants to divide in the spring, along with the number of divisions I expect to make for each one.

Walking around with my notebook in hand, I also noted that my cushion mums will need dividing, as will my artemisia, campanula, coreopsis, coral bells and creeping phlox.

I am sketching out where in the beds these plants are so that I can watch for them to come up in spring and make the divisions early. I am also jotting down where these divisions can be planted, as I do have space in some of my beds that they would be perfect for. 

I will attach these notes to the December page of my calendar and move them to my 2013 calendar when I get it.

We strive to provide the best growing conditions for our gardens and are usually rewarded with flourishing, healthy specimens that have the best chance of weathering insect pests and disease, and giving us the satisfaction and enjoyment of fresh vegetables and colorful flower beds.

And although it’s still summer, now is the perfect time to take a good look at your gardens and plan ahead for next spring. 

Jolene Wallace is the horticulture program assistant for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. Contact her at 561-7450 or