As summer comes to an end, it doesn’t mean that the color in your yard has to end with it. With the fall weather approaching, you need to change your gardening practices to get your garden and landscape ready for the next season.
The key to fall gardening is knowing the approximate date of the first killing frost in your region. Many gardeners have grown up with the traditional “plant in spring, harvest in fall” concept, but there is much more to the home garden. Most home gardens in North America can grow vegetables for three seasons a year with very little change to your current garden setup.
1. Start seeds indoors. Many of your fall crops will benefit from being pre-sprouted inside under controlled conditions. You can start some of your seeds indoors, where it’s cooler, and then transfer them outside on a cloudy day. Some great fall crops are collard greens, kale, parsley, broccoli, cabbage, green onion, mustard greens, radish, spinach, turnips, beets, carrots, cauliflower, cilantro, lettuce and basil.
2. Add some nutrients to your soil.You’re probably going to plant where a previous vegetable had already been growing. Don’t plant the same crops in the same location as you planted them last season — it drains the soil of nutrients and attracts the same insects and diseases. It’s also a good idea to add a bit of compost or worm castings to give your fall crops optimal growing conditions.
3. When in doubt, add some mulch.Make sure to add some organic mulch to your fall crops to keep the moisture in the ground. The fall weather factor takes into account the slower growth from cooler weather and shorter days in the fall, and is usually about two weeks.
4. Water is still important.Make sure to keep your seeds moist, especially if you’re trying to germinate seeds directly into your garden. Soak your seeds and leave them in the refrigerator overnight. The next day sow them in your garden. This should speed up germination.
5. Pest Prevention.One of the most difficult aspects of starting seeds and putting out new plants during the summer are bugs. As summer vegetables are harvested, check the open space before fall and winter plants are planted. Deer love apple trees and flowers in the fall, so you might want to invest in a small fence to keep animals out too.
Fall is the best time to plant most trees, shrubs, evergreens, perennials, spring flowering bulbs and the plants that provide us with great colors late into the season like mums, cabbage and kale. A healthy, well-planned landscape can add as much as 15 to 20% to the value of your home. Besides that, it provides enjoyment and beauty, as you’re helping the environment both aesthetically and functionally.