September 22 marks the first day of fall and there are still many tasks to do in the garden! Taking advantage of the sunny fall days and cooler temperatures to prepare your garden for winter will promote a healthy and productive garden for the spring.
Early fall is a great time to divide and transplant perennials. We often forget over the winter months which plants are crowded or overgrown, which ones need to be divided or moved, so dividing them now will allow the plants to get established prior to winter and ready to grow when the spring weather arrives.
Adding compost or manure to your garden beds in the fall will also give you a head start on spring tasks – simply spread it on top of your garden soil, and let nature do the work for you! The winter freeze and thaw, assisted by earthworms, will work the compost or manure into your garden beds, enriching your soil with nutrients for your spring plants.
Again thinking about preparing for spring, fall is the time to plant bulb for a spring display – such as tulips and daffodils, hyacinths. To help avoid the squirrels digging up your bulbs, and “fool the squirrels” – water the bulbs well after planting then cover the ground with mulched leaves and a couple of branches to try to hide your fresh plantings from the squirrels. While planting hardy bulbs for spring, its also time to lift up and store tender flower bulbs, such as dahlias, gladiolus and cannas.
After frost it’s time to clear your garden beds, by cutting back plants to prevent them from going to seed and spreading. Fall weeding is also important for the same reason. Clean up any diseased plants, rotten fruit or vegetables to prevent the spread of disease. Don’t forget to, leave some selective plants like Sedum and Echinacea for some winter interest.
One of the most important tasks of in later fall is to soak the soil around trees and evergreens as they need water to prepare themselves for winter.
Once your gardens are tidy, your bulbs are planted for a spring display, your tools cleaned, sharpened and stored for the winter…there is still one final fall task – order some garden catalogs, magazines or books to plan and start planning for next year!