People might think that fall is the end of the growing season. However, gardeners in most climates can extend it. Additionally, fall is the time of cleanup and preparation for spring. These five tips will help your fall garden reach its top potential.
Clean Up Unwelcome Growth
If you have put off weeding and other maintenance tasks because it was too hot outside, fall is the time to clean up the garden beds. Remove weeds and vegetable plants that have reached the end of their lifespan. While weeds will eventually succumb to frost, removing them will decrease diseases and pests. You can even mow a mixture of grass and leaves into a grass catcher and use the resulting mixture as fertilizer for the vegetable garden. That’s because the mixture contains carbon and nitrogen.
Add Color to Your Garden
While cleanup serves a purpose, planting colorful cool-season flowers adds pizzazz. Utilize gaps in your garden’s layout and add asters, chrysanthemums, cyclamen and pansies. You can also plant trees and shrubs because fall conditions provide moisture and a good buffer against transplant shock.
Plant Fall Vegetables
You can add a variety of fall vegetables to extend the life of your garden. Lettuce varieties love lower temperatures because they create better taste and prevent bolting. Other greens that enjoy cool weather include mustard, kale and collard.
If leafy greens aren’t your thing, grow beets, radishes, carrots and turnips. You can harvest them late in the season, and with proper storage they will last well into winter. Cabbage and Brussels sprouts also do well late in the season, even after a first frost.
What to Plant in Warmer Climates
In areas with mild winters that don’t normally experience frost, fall planting differs a bit. You can get away with planting potatoes, okra, winter squash and eggplant up until the end of September. You can also plant cool season vegetables, but do so later in the season. It depends on the area, but you should wait until temperatures have cooled down enough.
Prepare the Garden for Rest
If you prefer to let garden areas go to rest for the winter, give the soil a gentle till after the weed removal. This exposes insects and will decrease pest issues in the year to come. Add a layer of manure, leaves or compost. If you can’t completely remove weeds from an area, cover it with cardboard or black plastic until spring.