As summer dwindles, many homeowners find their gardens looking a bit drab. The once perky flowers and borders are showing signs of passing on, and the coming cooler temperatures with shorter days signal to many plants the end of the growing season. Properly preparing the garden for fall plants and vegetables is essential for a successful autumn garden or harvest. The following is a list of things to do in the garden once summer ends and falls begins. Use it for reference when planning your fall gardening schedule.
Select Cool Season Flowers, Plants and Vegetables
Before you even put on the gardening gloves, you must have an idea of what plants will be going in the fall garden. There are many different flowers and vegetables to choose from that do well and thrive in the fall months. Choose plants that are frost hardy to some degree, expecially if you live in a colder climate where the fall months are known to be chilly.
Cool seaon vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, lettuce, spinach and cabbage are excellent choices for a autumn harvest. A productive fall vegetable garden begins at the end of summer. Plan to plant seeds in the beginning of August to ensure a bountiful harvest. Quick maturing vegetables can be planted in September. Know the dates of maturation for all the vegetables you plan to plant and plant them accordingly so as to avoid the first hard frost.
Flowers such as Sedum Autumn Joy and Chrysanthemums are traditional fall flowers that are quite popular in many different landscapes and gardens. The wildflower goldenrod, as well as daisies and sunflowers are all additional suitable choices for a fall flower garden or landscape.
Prepare the Garden Site
For an effective fall display, spent summer blooms must be properly pruned and disposed of. Annuals can be removed completely. Remove the summer crop residue and any outlying weed growth in the area. Till the soil for vegetables and spade about 6 or so inches. Add a few pounds of fresh fertilizer to the soil. Select a site for the fall plants and blooms, making sure that the area will receive adequate sunlight during the day.
A cool, moist soil is important for the growth of many vegetables. However, the summer sun can dry out soil, making it hard and crusty. If this is the case in your region, be prepared to cover the soil with burlap or mulch to help keep the ground cool after seeding allowing for more favorable germination to occur. Light shading can be helpful in keeping the ground cooler for flower and plant transplants as well.
Sow Seeds and/or Prepare for Transplants
After the site has been prepared, sow seeds directly into the soil. Be sure to do this early enough to allow for germination and a successful harvest. Check with your local gardening center for tips on planting dates in your region. Transplants should be planted according to each plant’s needs, and adequate spacing should be applied for those expecting more abundant growth. Your local gardening center can be an excellent source of information on what grows best in your area and how best to care for it to ensure the plant thrives.
Consider planting a few spring bulbs during this time as well. Tulips and daffodils are popular bulbs commonly planted in the fall in preparation for spring.