We think of fall as the time when the fun of gardening ends for the year; but fall is the best gardening season to be active. Enjoy end-of-season vegetable gardening maintenance practices with these tips:
- The cool weather-loving fall crops—lettuce, spinach, arugula, radish and cabbage—should be growing happily and are ready to be harvested.
- Crops like kale and carrots can stay in the garden for a while, as they can survive a few frosts and the cold temperatures improve their flavor.
- For fall color, plant pansies. They overwinter under the snow and will perform beautifully next spring since their roots establish during the cold months.
- Fall is the best time to divide perennial vegetables such as rhubarb, sorrel, chives and asparagus.
- The most important task in fall is to prepare your garden soil for winter. Remove all debris (and toss into the compost pile for the next growing season) and add manure and compost to enrich the soil for spring.
- Tender edible perennials such as artichoke can benefit from mulching for extra protection from winter temperatures.
- Sowing winter wheat in the garden as a cover crop helps improve the soil.
- Record this year’s planting design to plan for next year’s crop rotation.
- Containers and planters should be emptied, washed and stored in a safe place for the winter.
- Garden tools and equipment should be cleaned, sharpened and adjusted and ready to use in early spring.
Fall is an exciting season, busy with small projects that prepare our gardens for the winter season—which can be spent planning and preparing for spring!