Yes, it’s that time already. Summer is fading into back-to-school, and fall is just around the corner. But getting your garden in shape for fall does not mean saying goodbye to it. Heck, no! There’s still plenty of life in that garden, although it may be showing signs of fatigue. A little spiffing up, and your yard will look so great you’ll want to throw more backyard parties.
And here’s the best part: the rewards of working outside now are both beautiful and bountiful. So here are 7 tips that’ll inspire you to start getting your garden in shape for fall:
- Remove spent blooms right away, to keep flowers coming as long as possible. But don’t overdo the deadheading if you have Echinacea or other seed-producers that attract gorgeous goldfinches. Let some seeds ripen for yourself, too, so you can plant them in the spring. Ziploc baggies are perfect for storage – just write on them with a ballpoint pen or Sharpie to ID the seeds inside.
- Pull up veggies and annuals that are truly finished. But plant anew. Spinach, snap peas, radishes and other fast-growing cool-weather-lovers will give you fresh fall crops.
- Replace spent annuals with pansies. They are anything but “pansies” when it comes to fending off cold weather. Plant bulbs this fall, too, to kick-start your spring flower show.
- Compost your trimmings. Even if you only grow herbs and veggies in containers and don’t have much room, starting a small compost pile will give your potted plants a great lift next season. Do not put fruits, flower heads, or weeds in your compost, or they’ll come back to haunt you next year.
- Cut sprigs from your rosemary, thyme, sage, etc., to dry. Harvest your basil and make pesto to freeze. Canning, freezing, and drying activities are fun ways to help your kids connect with the grow-harvest cycle of life – and it can make them appreciate their meals more, too. Better yet, there’s no better time than now to show off your culinary and beverage creativity using these and other ingredients from your own garden.
- Have your tomatoes finally kicked into high year? If you’re facing a bumper crop of Sweet Millions or romas, toss them with some olive oil and minced garlic, sprinkle with sea salt, and roast under the broiler till slightly charred. Too good to be true, and an easy keeper in the freezer, so you can swoon over that to-die-for fresh tomato flavor in the dead of winter.
- As you work, make notes of changes you want to make in your garden – perennials to divide, veggies to grow more (or less) of, blank spots in your landscape you’ll want to fill in. Notes in hand, you can spend those winter indoor months planning the details. You’ll be ready for action as soon as the weather turns nice again. Our gardening reading list will help stir your imagination.
Aren’t you glad you “planted” an artificial grass lawn?
Just think of all the no-fun chores you can skip this fall: end-of-season maintenance for your lawn mower and other tools, readying your lawn for winter by thatching and aerating and fertilizing, etc. Instead, readying your garden for fall is productive and satisfying.
You know what else is satisfying? Getting rid of those yucky slugs and snails. Tuck a few shallow dishes of beer under hostas or other favorite hiding places (away from pets). No microbrews for those slugs, though – the cheap stuff will do the trick just fine.