Soon, the summer heat will be fading away, with cool weather moving in. While this is true, it does not mean that the gardening season has to end. Fall is the ideal time for you to plant certain cooler weather crops. You can also plant over-winter crops, which will be ready to harvest in early spring. Fall gardens are a great activity to participate in to stay active and spend time outdoors.
However, if you have plans to garden this time of year, you may need some tips. Along with taking the time to read this recent my seed needs blog post, which has a lot of helpful information, to jump-start your fall planting.
Whether you are planting raised beds, in-ground vegetable gardens, or container fall crops, be sure to choose seasonal crops that will thrive in cool temperatures.
1. Fall Garden Prep: Plant if the Ground Is Soft Enough to Turn
As the summer season comes to an end, there are still certain fall garden plants you can grow, such as onions, garlic, and Brussel sprouts. You can also plant these types of bulbs when the ground softens in the spring, too.
If you have a larger area for planting, you can maximize your potential by planting seedlings post- or pre-season; however, this all depends on your region. In some areas, you will not have this option because of issues related to permafrost.
Keep in mind your first frost date and plan accordingly. A light frost is okay but any colder and your plants will need to be protected. It is a good idea to consult with local gardening experts to find regionalized tricks and tips that will help you have a successful fall garden.
2. Fall & Winter Garden Crops: Start Your Seedlings Inside
Many of the seedlings you may want to plant are weather sensitive. If you live in an extremely cold area, the environment outside may be hostile to these seedlings during the winter.
This is when cookie tins, mint tins, and even egg cartons can be valuable supplies to plant seeds. All these can be used as an improvised planter where you will be able to nurture seedlings when it is colder outdoors.
As the growing season changes, you can begin putting your seeds in the ground. They will be much stronger and more resilient to the elements if you start them inside.
3. Fall Garden Cleanup: Cover Your Ground Areas During the Off-Season
After you have harvested your summer garden, and when the seasons start to change, you need to clean the planting area of all remaining debris. You want to make sure that brush in the area does not take over, which may choke out the ability for your seeds to grow. You can also plant a cover crop to suppress any weeds from growing in.
However, if you leave your planting area completely “naked” or uncovered, the elements may cause significant damage and negatively impact what will grow in the coming year.
The solution to this is to cover the area with plenty of mulch as a row cover. You can use dried fall leaves, pine straw or pine bark, grass clippings, or any type of organic matter too. After the snow has melted, all you must do is rake away all the mulch that you put in the area and get ready to plant again for spring and summer.
4. Install Wildlife Barriers While it is Cold
Rabbits, deer, and all types of wildlife that are local to your region are going to be interested in what you are growing, especially when it is cooler out and food becomes harder to find. If you do not factor this in, they may completely ruin your garden while you are sleeping.
Usually, these critters will visit at night, but sometimes you will be able to see them while the sun is up. During the fall and winter months, you should install any varying barrier protection to help prevent them from coming in.
Just like scarecrows will scare away birds from your cornfield, you can use motion activated sprinklers to help frighten the deer and other animals that may get into your garden. There are an array of methods that you can use and many options that will help to scare away animals without causing them any harm or causing harm to your garden or your neighbor’s yard.
5. Compost the Area
The compost that you add to your garden will serve as a type of organic fertilizing agent. It is going to give your plants what is needed to ensure success. However, you must do this in a balanced manner.
Some plants will drown if you add too many nutrients. It is helpful to perform a soil test to make sure your soil is properly nutrient.
The same is true for fertilizing with compost. Do not add more than three inches of the compost to your garden soil. This is going to help provide you with a balanced level for when your plants begin to grow for a fall harvest.
Having a compost pile in your backyard is a great way to utilize kitchen scraps and yard waste such as fallen leaves. Bonus: helps with your fall cleanup and invites beneficial insects into your garden beds. Plus, it helps prepare your soil so you can have healthy plants.
Are You Ready for Fall Gardening?
As you can see, there are many things you can do to prepare your garden or planting area is ready for fall. Also, taking steps now will ensure the ground is ready for spring planting. Get going on your fall garden today!