While summer seems to be hanging on for dear life in our area, fall is well on its way. The beginning of September means that the long, lazy days of summer will soon be coming to an end and the cool, crisp days of harvest are among us. This means, we need to get our gardens ready for fall so that they may flourish in the spring.
I love autumn. The breeze. The cool nights. The beautiful changing foliage and falling leaves. But, it’s a bittersweet love because all of these beautiful things also mean that my favorite thing to do is also coming to a close. Gardening.
While it is sad to put the garden to bed, doing these chores also means we will have a bountiful harvest next year. This is just a cycle like everything else. And as the long winter approaches, knowing that we took care of our garden in the fall means that first thing next spring, we can get started and have a beautiful, bountiful garden again.
6 Fall Gardening Tips
Prepare Your Garden Beds
This can be incredibly involved if you want it to. But, it doesn’t have to be. Our kitchen gardens do just fine using the steps I outline below.
- Remove Annuals
Once they’ve stopped producing, it’s time to pull up any plants that aren’t going to come back next year. I made the mistake of leaving tomato plants in for too long one year, then it was too cold to get them to pull up out of the ground. The next season wasn’t as great and I had a lot more work trying to get half dead, frozen plants out of the garden early enough to prepare the bed.
Once they’re done producing, loosen the soil around them and pull them up. Compost them as long as they aren’t diseased.
2. Cut Back Perennials
I love growing herbs because so many of them grow year after year even in our zone. I can just cut them back and they will do their thing after the cold turns into spring. Next year I’d like to add a cut flower garden to our homestead and look forward to adding some perennials to that as well.
To cut them back, just wait until they’ve gone to seed and cut them back to about 1″ above the soil level. You’ll want to mulch over them, but we will talk about that in a moment.
4. Turn The Soil
Turning your soil will help prevent garden pests next spring. We always gently till up our garden after all of the plants are removed and turn the soil around any remaining plants. This brings all those pest eggs to the surface and breaks up a good deal of them.
Another option is letting your ducks or geese have a heyday after you’ve cut everything back. They will eat up all of the grubs and gently turn the soil for you.
5. Add Compost
It’s time to empty those bins! Adding compost in the fall will make your spring sowing a lot easier. It will help fertilize the soil, you don’t have to worry too much about it being too hot, and it will make the soil easier to work in the spring.
6. Add Mulch or Cover Crops
Both have their advantages. You can use fallen leaves to mulch, they do a great job. You don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of straw or anything for this, leaves will honestly do just fine. Or, alternatively, you can plant cover crops. Both help smother out the weeds and feed the soil.
Plant New Trees
Fall is the best time to plant trees. Be it fruit or just a beautiful shade tree. It gives them a healthy start. You do need to make sure you secure the trunk so that those wicked winter winds don’t knock it down. But, if you’re looking to add some trees to your property, now is certainly the time.
Plant Some Bulbs
You stick bulbs in the ground in the fall so that the first signs of spring begin popping up all over your yard (my favorite). From tulips and daffodils to crocus and hyacinth now is the time to grab up the bulbs and put them in the ground. They do need to be put in at least 6 weeks before the first hard frost in order to work their magic come spring… so hop to it.
Plant a Fall Garden
There are plenty of plants that do well in the fall! In fact, some plants do best in the fall. You don’t have to worry about the heat killing them off or making them bolt and pests knock down to a minimum. For some ideas on veggies to plant in your fall garden check out this post.
These tips are sure to get your garden ready for fall so you can have a bountiful harvest next spring.