Fall Garden Tips

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It’s fall ya’ll! While the ‘actual’ start of fall was 10 days ago it truly didn’t feel like fall until today. The day started today overcast with temps in the 60’s and a projected high ‘only in the mid 70’s. It just feels so good.

Now that the weather has finally cooled down we can get some stuff done outside with sweltering away. So what should we do this fall?

Do a final harvest of the cool weather greens, your spinach, your turnip greens, mustard greens. You can eat them in salads, or put back (in different methods) for later use.

Then get started cleaning up the garden. This means removing dead foliage, getting rid of the weeds by pulling (no chemicals in the food garden!) and remove the old mulch to your compost pile. Trim back perennials.

Prep your plot. This means to dig into the dirt about 8-10 inches and move rocks, weeds and dead foliage. You can then spread compost on top, mix it in, and rake it to level out the bed. Be sure to add compost especially if you’re planning on planting a fall crop.

Are you planting a fall crop? There are several cool weather crops you can consider planting this season. Cole (cool weather) crops include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens as well as the popular kale.

Fall is the best time to plant spring blooming bulbs. Planting in the fall gives them time to develop a good root system making the bloom stronger come spring. Spring bulbs should be planted 6-8 weeks before the first hard frost.

bulbs
bulbs

There are fall annuals too. You see them in well-maintained landscaped beds. Plant some fall annuals such as marigolds, pansies, nasturtuim, snapdragons and of course ornamental kale.
Water and mulch. Unless it’s rainy where you are be sure to give those fall crops as well as fall planted bulbs and perennials a good drink then spread mulch to help control weeds as well as to retain moisture in the ground.

Consider planting a cover crop. A cover crop helps to keep the weeds down and helps to fertilize the soil when you turn the crop in the spring. Cover crops could be buckwheat, clover or what Grandpa always planted, hairy vetch.

clover
clover

The lawn still needs you. Do a final mowing and if your ground is hard consider using an aerator on the lawn. Folks in sandy areas like me probably don’t need to do so. Aerating helps get the nutrients into the plant, such as when you do a fall fertilization.

raking
raking

Proceed to raking those leaves. If you bag them find a place to set them (NOT at the curb) such as behind a shed and they’ll naturally decompose in the bag. You can then use this as compost next spring. Or, if you have a compost bin you can go ahead and fill the bin.