As summer ends and fall begins, it’s time to get the garden ready for the new season. There’s work to be done cleaning up the summer garden and removing all the dead plants. The hot season may be wrapping up but the garden is not quite done for the year. Here are some things I am doing to get the garden ready for fall.
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5 Garden Tasks for Early Fall
Get Rid of Pests
Toward the end of the growing season, we noticed that the tomatoes were losing their leaves. We did a little digging and found these hornworms all over the plants. If we were in the middle of the summer, we would have treated the plants and removed each of them from our garden. But since we are in the process of getting the soil ready for the winter, we pulled up all the dead plants so they wouldn’t be able to burrow down in the dirt all winter.
I love having a handy resource that helps me know how to care for my garden and what to do when I find these pests. The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook by Susan Mulvihill shows you how to handle pest issues by growing healthier plants, properly identifying the culprit, and nurturing the overall ecosystem of the garden. With easy-to-use charts, you’ll learn how to identify common vegetable garden pests based on both the damage they cause and their physical appearance.
DIY pest-control projects, coupled with up-to-date info on the best natural products, physical pest-control tricks, and tips for managing pests with the use of traps and barriers, all lead to a garden where beneficial insects and pollinators are preserved while pest populations are kept in check.
Prepare the Soil for a new Season
This is my second year to try a fall garden. I know there are cool crops that can do well in this back half of the growing season so I’m determined to try to grow another batch of vegetables. We pulled out all the tobacco sticks, garden twine, dead plants and tilled up the soil. It took several loads to the compost pile and a few days with the tiller but soon the garden was ready to replant.
We left the bell peppers and okra since they are still producing.
Try Something New
We have never grown broccoli, cabbage, or chives but there’s no reason we shouldn’t try something new. I pulled out my stash of seeds and decided to plant some vegetables that we don’t normally grow. If they do amazing, then we’ll have some tasty homegrown fall meals, but if they don’t grow well, we won’t lose anything.
Consult the Experts
Talk to the ‘old timers’ who have been planting gardens in your area to get their tried and true wisdom. These farmers from the older generation are a great source of experience and expertise.
Another expert resource is the Old Farmers Almanac. This publication is arguably the most trusted expert on everything about weather, crops, seasons, and what to expect in the coming year. It only makes sense to do some reading before we get out to plant a new batch of seeds.
Gather Seeds for Next Year
One of my favorite tasks during this season of gardening is gathering the seeds for next year. The easiest seeds to gather are from wildflowers like zinnias, marigolds, and cosmos. Once the flower heads are brown and ‘crispy’, you simply snap off the pod and break apart the seeds.
Tip: Make sure you wait till the flower heads are completely dry before you gather the seeds. If there is any moisture in the seeds, you may end up with moldy seeds that don’t germinate next year.
What tasks do you do in the fall season to wrap up the summer garden? I’d love to hear your tips and favorite fall tasks.