Garden calendar: For the week of Sept. 30
Vegetables: Remove cucumber vines that are no longer producing and place the debris in a hot compost pile. If you had foliar diseases, especially downy mildew, bag the vines up and throw them away rather than composting. Also do the same with basil that had downy mildew. Now is a good time to rejuvenate your rhubarb plants via root division. Divide the plants into clumps with several crowns (two or three is a good number) in each clump. Replant the clumps at the same depth. Replant and water in the divisions promptly.
Soil testing: It’s a great time to do soil testing now for the vegetable garden as well as perennial and annual beds, turf areas, and areas where you grow fruit. Fall is less busy at the lab than spring, so it’s a good time to send a sample in. Also, a test will tell you if you need to add compost this fall for next spring’s vegetable garden. Samples should be mailed to the UW Soils Lab in Marshfield, along with a form that tells the lab what type of plants you are growing so they can customize their recommendations for the needs of those plants. Go to http://uwlab.soils.wisc.edu/ for the form, information on how to collect samples and the address to send samples for analysis. You can also call your local Extension office for a printed copy of the form and a soil test bag if you don’t have internet access.
Soil testing is important for new gardens, so you have baseline information for fertilizer application as well as for beds that haven’t been tested for a while. The University of Wisconsin Soils Lab’s standard soil test costs $15 and the report includes information on your soil pH, (this is a measure of the acidity and alkalinity of your soil) percent organic matter, phosphorus and potassium levels and also includes a lime or sulfur recommendation, fertilizer recommendations and other environmental tips.