While we’ve been enjoying a burst of late summer here, fall is coming like it or not. Summer annuals are beginning to die back, leaves are beginning to drop, and some perennials are winding down for the season. But that doesn’t mean gardening is over for the year!

Our Fall Cleanup & Meeting are coming up on October 21st and we have a lot to accomplish in the garden now to get it in shape for next year. Here’s a Fall Chores Checklist that we’ll tackle at our cleanup day and each gardener should be sure to do on her/his own:

  1. Remove diseased plants. We’ve had a few chronic diseases floating around the garden: root knot nematodes and blight in our tomatoes, powdery mildew on our flowers, leaf rust on our strawberries, squash vine borers, cucumber wilt. Sigh. But that doesn’t mean we can’t beat them next year! Now’s the time to toss our infected plants (off site!) to minimize the spread of disease for next summer.
    Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 6.17.50 PM
    Root knot nematodes in tomato
    Powdery mildew on zinnias


    Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 3.42.46 PM
    Leaf rust on strawberries


  2. Good garden hygiene. In addition to removing diseased plants, it’s also time to remove fading summer annuals, fallen veggies and frutis (mummies), dead plants, leaves, and anything else you don’t need in the garden. Leaving rotting fruit and debris in the garden bed increases chances of diseases and pests next year.
  3. Weed like crazy.  Like diseases, you want to nip weeds in the bud-literally. If weeds are allowed to set seed, they’ll spread and make our weeding work harder in the spring. Fewer weeds in the fall=fewer weeds in the spring. Not sure which are weeds? Check this out. 
  4. Divide perennials. Fall is the best time to divide and plant perennials. Perennials plants outgrow their containers after a few seasons and benefit from division, or removal of some of the plants. Your divided perennials can be transplanted to another container or composted (gardens are not the place to be precious!).
  5. Stabilize woody plants. Take a look at the trees and large shrubs in the garden and identify any broken or dead limbs. Now’s the time to remove them before winter weather makes them worse.
  6. Amend your soil. Many pests lay their eggs in the soil to hatch in the spring. Diseases can hide in soil too. Remove compromised soil, add fresh, and top dress with 3″ of compost.
  7. Plant a cover crop. If you’re not planting fall veggies this year, consider a cover crop! Cover crops like clover, field peas, and brassicas restore health to your garden soil by fixing nitrogen, providing biomass, and even staving off pests.
  8. Plant bulbs for next year. Get spring and summer flowering bulbs in the ground now. (Floret Flower has the most dreamy bulbs…)
  9. Evaluate this year’s garden. Take note of what did well in the garden this year and what didn’t. Factor your findings into your planting plan for next year. Not all garden areas are ideal for growing the same things (for example you’ll never get a healthy yield of tomatoes if your plants are in the shade most of the day). Have a look at our Resources page to find tons of veggies and fruits to try out next summer!

A last note: “The season is over” is my least favorite expression in gardening. Gardens are never over! They are constantly evolving with time, seasons, and gardeners. Learn to love your garden 365 days a year at this webinar.

See you in the garden on October 21st!