So you’ve had a bountiful veggie season, and harvested your crops, and now that temperatures are beginning to drop, that’s it, right? Well, not quite. If you want to have a successful season next year, you can take a few extra steps now to treat your soil and ensure your plants will do just as well (or better) come spring.

Step 1: Clean Up

This step is so important! Before doing anything else, take a few moments to pull out weeds, brush, and other dead plant material. Some of this debris contains disease and insects which can cause problems in the spring, so you’ll want to remove them from the bed rather than just rake them in.


Step 2: Add Lime

Most veggies tend to like the soil a little “sweet” so you can sprinkle some garden lime on top of the soil now, so it has time to absorb into the ground and change the PH of the soil by the time spring arrives. Tip: If you’re planning on planting potatoes you can skip this step as they tend to like more acidic soil.


Step 3: Add Nutrients

If you think about how nutritious your veggies are, just remember that those nutrients come from the ground. You can help replace depleted nutrients by putting down Organic Garden-tone at the same time you apply the lime. This step will also help add in some microbial activity which further benefits the soil.


Step 4: Insect Control

To help keep unwanted insects at bay, you can apply an organic insect control like diatomaceous earth to keep your springtime veggies happy.


Step 5: Amend the Soil

To give your soil some additional love, we recommend top dressing your garden bed with compost like Soilution which contains lots of beneficial goodies including earthworm castings, mycorrhiza, biochar, lobster, kelp, and nutrients (everything but the kitchen sink).


Step 6: Plant a Cover Crop

There are a few reasons why you should consider planting a cover crop like Winter Rye. First, it quickly fills in the garden bed, which prevents weeds, but also acts as erosion control. Second, since Winter Rye is deep-rooted, it pulls nitrogen up to the top layers of soil through the roots which your veggies love. The deep root system also keeps the soil from becoming compact, which will make springtime planting easier. And finally, you can let it grow until about three weeks before you plant, and then, when you cut it back, you can till it directly into the garden bed to create green manure.


And that’s it! Following these simple steps now will ensure your garden will do even better next year!

Happy gardening!

stacey tips art 1Just because you can’t see it, does not mean it is not important. pH is probably the most significant soil factor in growing grass, flowers, and veggies. Do you know your soil pH? If you do, your yard will be very proud of you. If you do not, you need to come down to Van Wilgen’s Garden Center, get one of our many soil testing kits, head down to the Connecticut Agricultural Station in New Haven. They can test your Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and pH balance there.

What is pH? Why is it so important? Think of soil pH as a chemical balance in the soil. If it is out of whack, nothing grows as well as it should. In general, Connecticut soil leans toward the low end of the pH scale, making our soil acidic or “sour”. The more sour our soil is, the more your plants struggle. Who likes a sour-puss anyway?

Once you determine your soil pH, we can help. If you measure a 7.0, you are in luck because your soil is neutral and you need not do a thing! Below 7.0? Here is what you need to do…apply Lime! Fall is almost here and is one of the best times to apply lime. It has all winter to work its’ magic.

Van Wilgen’s offers Fast Acting Lime by Encap and Soil Doctor’s Pelletized Lime. Both are great

solutions but I prefer the slower-acting Lime by Soil Doctor for the Fall. It takes its sweet time,

breaking down under the snow, and is more available in the Spring.

Think of your lawn and garden as having a bad sweet tooth. It needs sweeter soil to thrive. If your soil is sour, raise it up with a Lime application. You will have a happier lawn next Spring and I know that will make you smile.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s Garden Center. We would love to help!

(Be proactive. Get ready for the thaw.)

Don’t worry. I promise no snow monsters are going to jump out of the snow and grab you, no icy pit is going to pull you in, and no frozen furball is going to nip at your ankles. I know that sometimes when it is cold and snowy it can feel like this. “No worries, spring is on its way!”

To help conquer our fears of what lurks beneath the snow, let’s get prepared. Being proactive can greatly reduce winter stress and make the transition into spring a lot easier.

Here is what we may anticipate once the snow melts…

You may see unexplainable squiggly lines all over your lawn that look like a drunken bike rider went joyriding all over your back yard. This culprit is no inebriated biker but it could be a bunch of annoying voles playing chase under the snow. Here is what you must do, immediately! As soon as the snow melts, apply a vole repellent right away. We definitely do not want these heavy breeders taking hold and eating the roots of your garden plants.

Once the snow melts you may also notice these alien-like, irregular circles forming on your lawn. The circles may be grayish or have a pink hue. This is Gray or Pink Snow Mold. Ew! Not a pretty sight but it won’t do tons of harm if you are proactive. Arm yourself with a rake, Lime, and maybe a good fungicide. Get out there and rake up those alien circles. This will help stop the spread. Apply Lime because this will help keep this pesky fungus at bay. If all else fails, it may be wise to put down a fungicide.

Believe it or not, cool-season weeds will pop their heads right up once the snow disappears. Be ready for them. Arm yourself with a good weed control that works in cool temperatures. This is key to a low weed count lawn.

In addition to funky trails, weird-looking patches, and cool-season weeds, you may see some bare patches. Some grass probably just could not make it through the winter. Maybe it died off from too much snow plow salt. Maybe it rotted under the snow or could not recover from the summer drought. Whatever the reason, now is the time to be proactive. Throw some grass seed down with a little gypsum, starter fertilizer, and hay. Watch those bare patches fill in quickly and establish themselves before the summer heat sets in.

Don’t get nervous this winter, get ready. Get ready with the tools you need to be proactive and ready for what lurks below, once the snow melts.

1. I Must Garden Mole & Vole Repellent, Vole Scram, or Messina’s Mole & Vole Repellent

2. Encap’s Fast Acting Lime or Soil Doctor’s Pelletized Lime

3. Infuse Fungicide

4. Weed Beater Ultra (for cool-season weed control)

5. NEW!!! WEED BEATER ULTRA FE(new, natural way to attack weeds)

6. Van Wilgen’s Grass Seed

7. Encap’s Fast Acting Gypsum

8. Greenview’s Starter Fertilizer or Espoma’s Organic Starter Fertilizer

9. Mainely Mulch Chopped Straw & Hay

Come see us at VanWilgen’s. We would love to help!

Is spring coming early this year?

Am I jumping the gun by changing the words to an old rhyme?! It doesn’t quite feel like I am. We have had a mild winter and the warm weather makes me feel like spring is already here. What does this mean? It means, all of us gardeners and people who just like to be outdoors, don’t have to chomp at the bit anymore. Let’s get going. Let’s open up those garden sheds and start shaking those tools up a bit. There is so much fun work to be done!

Where to begin…? Which tool to start with…? I know….

*Rake: Get the rake out and start raking. Clean out those garden beds and clean up that lawn. Start with a nice, clean slate.

*Cultivator: Use this sharp pronged tool to help you pull out some of those unwanted weeds that are sprouting up. The sooner the better.

*Shovel: Dig up a few soil samples from your lawn and garden and bring them in for me to test the pH level. The proper pH level is key for a successful lawn, veggie garden, and perennial bed.

What products do I need now…?

*Preen: After you spend all that time raking up the garden beds, apply Preen to help keep those pesky weeds at bay all season long. Don’t do all that hard work for nothing!

*Lime: The snow has melted and the lawn & veggie garden needs some sweetening up. It takes a while to raise the pH of your soil, so get going now. Please.

*Fertilizer: Get ready. Lawns, trees, and shrubs can wait a little bit longer but as soon as those yellow Forsythias start to pop, it is time. Usually, the Forsythia start showing off in April but I have a hunch they will start to show yellow earlier than that.

I don’t want you to feel rushed. I just want you to be prepared. If you need a little inspiration, come to Van Wilgen’s and get yourself a little treat. We have happy pansy faces of every color and they can handle the temperatures down to 28 degrees. If they don’t get you in the mood for spring, I do not know what will.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!

Your Shopping List: Preen, Fast Acting Lime by Encap, and Espoma’s Plant Tone