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Fall Veggies 101

• Before planting, prep your soil. Remove any garden debris from the past season’s garden and remove weeds before they go to seed.

• Size up your soil. Loosen compacted soil, fluffing it up with a garden fork. Adding a 2-inch layer of bagged compost slowly benefits your crops and soil; an application of a balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10, spread according to label directions, is valuable, too.

• Consider planting options. Large planters and raised beds fashioned with timbers, retaining-wall stones or cinderblocks allow you to start with quality soil — half topsoil and half compost — and require you to bend less to access crops.

• Let the sun shine in. Most vegetables need full sun — at least six hours per day. When frost threatens, cover plants with floating row cover (paper-thin fabric that lets air and light in), cold frame or cloches (glass bell jars). Veggies grown in pots can be placed on wheels that allow you to move them inside a garage or shed on frost-threatening nights.

• Pick your plants. Transplants, or baby plants six weeks or older, get you a quicker harvest than seed. Look for plants in easy-use biodegradable pots that make planting simple, prevent transplant shock and lessen use of plastic pots. As the pot biodegrades, it also adds nutrients to the soil.

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