by K. Marc Teffeau, Ph.D.
Frost on the Pumpkin? Now that fall is truly here, it is time for planting and also for preparing for winter. Given the very unusual and wet weather patterns of the summer, I hope that the upcoming winter is a normal one. There was a lot of disease pressure on plants this past summer because of the wetness and high humidity, so it is very important this fall to do a thorough clean-up of the vegetable garden and f lower beds. Many of the common diseases that infest fruit, vegetables and f lowers in the spring and summer overwinter on the debris left in the f lower bed and in the fruit and vegetable garden. Practicing good sanitation by cleaning up and removing old f lowers, fruit, leaves and stems will go a long way toward reducing disease problems next year. Do not put any disease- or insect-infested plant debris in the compost pile. During the normal decomposition process in the home compost pile, temperatures do not
get hot enough to kill overwintering disease spores and insect eggs. Dispose of clean-up debris in the trash instead. Late September into early October is the best time to plant fall annual beds. It is cooler for the transplants and gives their roots time to become established before winter cold hits. Remove the mushy marigolds and pooped-out petunias, and replant with a mixture of dwarf snapdragons and pansies for color, and parsley, rosemary, kale, mustard and Swiss chard for background color. Donâ€™t forget that you can also plant f lowering cabbage and kale for some nice fall color. 83