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We made it through the dog days of summer, and now the leaves are changing, and the temperature is dropping. Crisp days and cool nights are upon us, which means it is time to put your gardens to bed and finish up your fall gardening chores before the snow flies!
Where to begin?
The first thing to do is to take a quick look around your beds and start with a good clean up. Leave ornamental and wildlife friendly plants standing. Next, take out any sickly-looking plants and destroy the debris to minimize next year’s issues with squash bugs, cabbage worms, and other pests and diseases.
Now is also a a good time to trim any dead or broken limbs. Doing it now, will save time later. A hard freeze or heavy snow can break more branches and cause more damage during winter. Gather up and dispose of any dead leaves. Once crumbly after aging in a heap, they make great mulch, or can be turned into beds to add organic matter.
Don’t forget about the lawn
Take another look around and think about the lawn. It’s best to do heavy raking now as opposed to the Spring. If you notice spots of grass that are bare, throw down some seed and cover it with a half, or three-quarter-inch layer of compost. This will help to prevent weeds later and protect the seed.
Now about those weeds, clean them up now! Getting rid of weeds now, means less seeds which translates into fewer weeds when the weather warms up again. This will make your Spring weeding faster, and way more manageable.
Watering is still Important
If you are experiencing a dry fall, be sure to water trees now through the hard frost, so that they enter dormancy well-hydrated. Evergreens (needled ones and broadleaf types like rhododendron, too) are particularly vulnerable to desiccation and winter burn.
Look for Improvement
Thoughtfully take apart the vegetable garden as crops fade, with an eye to improved future performance. Think about tilling less, about cover crops, and about generally boosting soil health. Make sure to protect or store weather-vulnerable pots and the tender plants in them. At a minimum, move pots under cover, where they will dry off to minimize the thaw effects of weather.
Finally, look back at the season and see what worked well, and what can you change for next year. Maybe you need to expand your garden and reduce the number of trees and shrubs? Which plants did well, and which one might you trade out for something else next year? Enjoy your last tomato plant while watching old man winter make his way in. Spring will be here before you know it, so relax and enjoy this season of change.
Fall Gardening Chores Made Easy was last modified: November 11th, 2017 by toadflax