It is always sad to see the evidence of time passing at the close of Summer each year. As Autumn approaches, the vibrant, sun-loving, heat-worshipping flowers that seem to have just bloomed yesterday begin to phase out. For an avid gardener, this time of year is the perfect opportunity to prepare for the Spring ahead, and to sneak in some extra Fall-time planting!
Do a deep-clean of whatever plots or raised beds you have been utilizing. This includes weeding and uprooting any spent plants, especially vegetables. Check your remaining plants for damage and disease, and either remove the foliage that has damage or uproot the entire plant if it is not salvageable.
If you have a mix of perennials and annuals, now is the time to cut back any perennials that need it. You may also want to consider dividing perennials that have gotten unruly or have overgrown their current home. Do some research on how best to divide and transplant your specific perennials.
Turn your soil over to thoroughly loosen and aerate, as well as to redistribute nutrients. When the soil is properly turned, you can amend it. If you utilize compost as a means to re-up the nutrient content of your soil, now is the best time to add in compost. Layer some plain, non-dyed or waxed cardboard in with a few inches of compost on top. Spread some mulch over the area, and you will be good to go for next year!
Be sure to stake any young trees that seem like they may need extra support. It is best to make sure that the twine or wire you use to bind the tree to the support stake does not lacerate the trunk. To avoid this, it is advisable to run your binder of choice through rubber tubing or to place a buffer in between the tree and the wire. These trees may also need some protection from hungry Winter-time pests. You can buy wraps made of vinyl or other similar materials with which to wrap your tree. If you do not wish to buy a wrap, you can easily wrap the tree with an old sheet, blanket, or towel. It will get the job done just the same, and you do not have to buy extra materials!
Care for Your Tools
Make sure to clean and care for all the tools that you have utilized throughout the season. Hand tools and motorized devices need to be maintained to ensure use year after year. For your trowels and the like, clean any layers of dirt or grime that have built up, as well as treat the exposed metal and oil any wooden handles or features. These efforts help prevent unnecessary rust, wear, and cracking.
For your motorized tools like weed whackers, lawnmowers, and similar devices, be sure to clean off any plant matter and dirt, drain the engine, apply oil where needed, and store in a cool, dry place. You will be thankful for your Fall-time efforts come Spring when you need to start your mower up for the first time.
Still in the cleaning mood? Try re-organizing and deep cleaning your work and storage areas! This will save you time and frustration when you are looking for a specific item in six months!
If you act fast, you can try to squeeze in one last harvest of cooler-season vegetables like those listed in the adjacent chart. Be sure to amend and aerate your soil before planting! If vegetables are not your thing, you can absolutely make use of this time by planting bulbs. Garlic and walking onion are especially popular as well as florals like daffodils and tulips. You should try to get these bulbs in the ground in Mid-Late Fall, before the first hard frost. Once the ground freezes, it will be too late.
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