After cleaning up your finished summer crops, you may have some spare veggie beds and it's time to think about preparing those beds for next season's veggies.
While these chores can be put off until the start of next spring, doing them now will give you a head start to next season's vegie garden and help make it more successful.
A cover crop, or green manure, will help develop and maintain healthy soils by protecting the soil and reducing weed competition as well as adding organic matter to the soil when you dig the green manure in in the spring.
You can use anything that will germinate at the time you are planting. The more common plants are barley, oats, clovers (Trifolium), field peas and mustard, which can all be grown specifically to be dug back into the soil to add nutrients to it.
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Green manures with oats and barley in the mix can be sown thickly to crowd out any weeds. Green manures containing legumes such as peas and beans will add nitrogen to the soil.
After they've been dug in, mustards release natural gases while they decompose and so can help control root knot nematodes and root rot fungal pathogens.
Alternatively, you can dig in aged manure or compost and cover with mulch. This will help keep some warmth in the soil and prevent winter weeds from germinating as well as help get an earlier start in the spring.
Cool season weeds such as chickweed and dandelion that have germinated recently will grow all winter, so it is worth keeping them in check before they get too established.
Continue to regularly check for caterpillars on your brassica crops. Even if you have your plants protected from cabbage butterflies with netting, just one caterpillar can destroy a young plant if you don't discover it for a week or so.
If you want to plant any of the short-day length onions, which form bulbs as daylight hours decrease, now is the time to do that. These varieties include Early Barletta, Gladalan Brown & White, Hunter River Brown & White and Pearl Pickler.
Long-day varieties can be planted over a longer period of time from August to May, but the end of May is about the limit for planting any type of onion until late winter next August.