The 2016 gardening season is over and now is a good time to start planning for next year according to Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

The first step is to clean up the garden. Remove debris that could harbor diseases. This is especially important with tomatoes.

Step number two: get a soil test. Now is a good time to test your garden soil, and plan any needed applications of lime, sulfur or fertilizers.

The third step is to apply some manure and compost to the garden. This allows time for decomposition before next season’s garden.

Finally, now is the time to mulch the perennial plants in our vegetable garden. Items like strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb will appreciate a mulch that is fluffy and does not pack down. Clean straw, four to six inches deep, is a good option.