The last of the tomatoes have been plucked from the vine and your garden is likely becoming a bit bare, but don’t let appearances fool you! These three must-do items for fall will prepare your garden for an even greater harvest next year.
Many gardeners wait for spring to begin tending to the soil. Why not spare yourself the chore of digging through cold, hard earth later and begin soil rejuvenation now? A little forethought can save a lot of time when you are ready to get plants into your garden beds. Experts agree on these basic principles for prepping your soil in the fall:
Clean and Clear
You will need to start by trimming hedges and digging out weeds and plants from all areas where you plan to plant next spring. You can throw most of what you pick up into the compost, but remember, large branches should be broken down first, and be careful of errant seeds from tomatoes or peppers if you don’t want sprouts in your pile.
Turn and Treat
If digging out the weeds hasn’t done the job already, you will need to till the soil with a hoe. This will mitigate the natural compacting of the ground over winter, making it much easier to plant come spring. Now is also the time to treat for any pests that have been plaguing your garden so that they don’t make a reappearance next year. The most overlooked part of this process is soil testing. But doing that now is one of the best ways to know what’s really happening with your soil. Once you get the results, you’ll then know exactly what amendments your earth needs to thrive for next year.
Strengthen and Safeguard
Perhaps the most important step is to add back nutrients and organic matter to the soil. There are pros and cons to the many soil amendments available. Commercial fertilizers can get the job done in one, but simpler substances like compost, manure, and leaf litter can be more cost effective. Decide what’s right for your garden, then spread your soil builders sufficiently. To protect all your hard work from the elements, don’t forget to mulch, or even consider planting a cover crop such as rye, which will give the soil even more richness when turned under in spring.
Once the soil has been prepped, it’s time to tackle a truly enjoyable task: planning your space for next year. Break out a pencil and some graph paper and experiment with a new garden layout, just as if you were re-arranging your living room.
Consider the sunlight and terrain of your plot. What worked well this year? What herbs and veggies did your family and friends love? Sit down with some seed catalogs and don’t be afraid to try something new. Heirloom varieties of standard plants can really bring new life to tired taste buds, as these plants often provide produce with a richness and depth of flavor not found in supermarket standards.
When it comes to revitalizing your garden, you don’t need to overhaul the beds and start from scratch to make an impact. Pick a project or two to focus on this fall, and learn everything you need to get it going by spring.
Will this be the year you upgrade that compost heap for a vermiculture system? Check out this guide to worm composting from DIY Natural.
Maybe you will try your hand at vertical gardening, taking inspiration from these eye-catching projects featured on Homesthetics.net.
You could even consider a new water feature or fountain to turn your garden into an oasis of calm. Check out GardenFountains.com for fountains to fit every style, space, and budget. Even the smallest of gardens can be refreshed with new containers or accents. The only limit is your imagination!
Whether you cultivate miles of beds or only a few simple pots, preparing for planting in the fall won’t just give you peace of mind, it will extend the enjoyment of the garden far beyond the final harvest.