As the temperature drops and plant life changes along with the autumn landscape, gardeners should prepare early for a transition to fall gardening, as well as key gardening tasks for the cooler months. Compared to more labor intensive gardening in spring and summer months, some would argue that autumn is the best time to give your garden a boost with the addition of fall crops and annuals.
Autumn temperatures are more temperate and easier to tolerate for many types of plants, and is an ideal time for plants to grow. Plan ahead for fall with these essential tasks to ensure your garden continues to thrive well into winter.
Before making any major changes, assess the condition of your plants and move some to new locations if needed. Look for signs of pests and infestation, and remove dead or infested plants to prevent the spread of diseases.
This is also the perfect time to mulch your garden to avoid future weed growth. Check thoroughly for debris or fallen leaves, and clear them out from your garden beds and walkways.
Revamp Your Soil
It is crucial to assess and boost your soil quality for a successful transition to fall gardening. Thoroughly evaluate the condition of your garden’s soil and make amendments if needed.
The easiest way to assess your garden’s soil quality is by conducting a soil test - which will offer comprehensive insight into its pH level and nutrient composition. Based on the outcome of the test, you can boost its quality by adding compost or manure, thereby strengthening soil structure and health.
Plant Bulbs for Spring
As fall approaches around September, it is a great time to start planting bulbs like daffodils, tulips, and crocuses for a spectacular showcase of spring blooms. This is the time when the soil is still soft and warm from summer, offering ideal conditions for these spring flowering bulbs to grow.
Planting for Fall
Warm weather crops slow down their production during cooler autumn months, and should be replaced with fall vegetables. These include veggies like kale, spinach, and carrots for fall or early winter harvests.
To further improve soil health, consider planting cover crops like rye or clover as well. Veggies like corn and okra are just about ready to harvest at this time, and plants at the end of their production can be used for compost.
Weeds tend to grow in the garden over the summer. As you transition to fall gardening, giving your garden a thorough weeding is a necessary task to ensure it stays in optimal condition. If left unchecked, weeds can encourage the presence of unwanted pests in the garden, wreaking havoc on your plants. They can also use up valuable nutrients and moisture intended for your crops.
In particular, clear out weeds from your garden beds before fall to make way for seasonal plants, to ensure optimal plant health in the coming months.
Time to Stop Mowing
When the temperature in your garden drops to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it is time to stop mowing your lawn. Similar to the rest of your plants and garden landscape, the grass also needs time to recoup in the cooler autumn months, and a weekly mowing routine is no longer necessary.
Protection from the Cold
As the temperature drops, it is essential to protect your plants from harsh weather early on before the arrival of winter. This will ensure your garden continues to grow well into winter without potential damage.
A good way to provide insulation for more delicate plants is by simply adding a layer of mulch around their base. This additional insulation will shield their roots from frost, keeping them healthy even in harsh winter conditions. Consider wrapping trees and shrubs with burlap or sackcloth to protect them from winds and freezing temperatures.
Keep Your Garden Hydrated
If you’ve tended to everything in your garden for its transition to fall, don’t forget to water your plants thoroughly as well. This will help newly planted crops establish their roots and other plants settle into place.
Garden soil tends to lose moisture quickly after the summer. Watering generously after planting your new crops will ensure they stay healthy and continue to grow well.