At the UGA Extension Gwinnett office, we are now planning for next year. We look at what we did last year, assess our residents’ needs, and plan accordingly. Everyone needs a time of evaluation and planning for the future.

I have a question to ask of my readers — How are you planning for next year’s garden?

Consider keeping a written log for your garden. A spiral-bound notebook will do. Computers are useful for storing information. Keep a record of planting, blooms, and harvest dates, varieties planted, fertilizers and pesticides used, among other things of interest. Also, record dates, depth of planting, plant spacing, and other numbers. What is doing well, poorly, or not at all? How many days to bloom, harvest, or death of the plant? This wealth of information will help you plan for next year.

Another forward-looking activity involves getting a new start. Plants are preparing for next year now too. Some lose their leaves and go dormant, while others slow their growth. Many are producing seeds to produce a new start next year.

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Take advantage of these seeds. Collect, clean, and store them for later, or plant them now. Should you plant them now or later? Seeds of perennials often need a cold treatment before they germinate to prevent them from being harmed by freezes. Most trees have this characteristic, as well as many shrubs and some perennial flowers. Plant these seeds outside now, and they will often get enough cold weather this winter and come up in the spring. Another option is to put them in moist but not wet sphagnum moss and store them in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks, though it varies with the plant. After chilling them, plant them in pots or the ground in the following spring.

Annuals usually do not have a period of dormancy and will germinate immediately. Collect and dry seeds from annuals and store them inside until spring. Plant them the following spring after the danger of frost has passed.

Many seed companies and nurseries will be releasing their 2021catalogues soon. Some gardening advertisements are overzealous in praise of their plants. One example is lawn grasses saying something such as ‘Green 365 days a year without water or fertilizer.’ If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No lawn grass fits that description.

Though we are moving into the wintertime cold weather, now is an excellent time to plan for next year. Think about what worked this year, what did not, and how you can improve your garden.

Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Gwinnett. He can be contacted at 678-377-4011 or tdaly@uga.edu.

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