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Fall brings both beautiful sunshine and stormy showers. We are stocking up on our vitamin D levels and getting our hands dirty. Doing these garden tasks now will set up our gardens to unfold beautifully in spring.

"Did You know?"

  • Sometimes Late is Better - Fall can be a busy time of clean-up, but there are a few chores that shouldn’t be hurried. One chore to put off until after the first frost is harvesting your root vegetables and brassicas. When the frost hits these veggies, the distressed plant produces more sugars, resulting in a sweeter taste. Root vegetables such as beets, carrots, turnips, and parsnips and brassicas such as cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, and collard greens are best harvested after the first frost. Tip - cut your squash stems then leave them lying in the sun for a week. This curing brings on better flavour and improves storage too.
  • Plant Bulbs Now for a big spring Wow - Fall is the time for planting spring-blooming bulbs, the promise of their early flowers can get us through the coldest of days. But losing them to munching critters is heartbreaking. If you have lots of squirrels or rabbits in your area, consider planting extra deep and covering with chicken wire. Tip - You can also choose bulbs the critters don't prefer. Consider daffodils, Siberian squill, allium, hyacinth, grape hyacinth, checked lily, winter aconite, and snowdrops to thwart their hungry appetites.
  • Fall Tune-up for Lawns - A summer full of backyard play can leave dead areas on your lawn. Fall is a great time to clean these areas up and reseed. First, clear out the dead turf and debris to expose the soil. Next, loosen the soil on the surface - if it's a big area you may want to gently dig the top 2 or 3 inches, if it's a small area, scratching the area with a rake will do. Add some compost and scatter a seed that matches the growing conditions of your lawn. Finally, gently incorporate the seed into the soil and lightly tamp down. If it isn’t raining, make sure that the new seed has water and does not dry out until the seedlings are established. And be sure to protect your new grass from foot traffic. 6 Tips for the Best Lawn.
  • Cut down some of those canes & brambles - Almost all raspberries and blackberries produce fruit on 2-year-old canes and they need to be thinned out to maintain good air circulation. It's easy to see which canes have produced fruit once fall has arrived - look for the floricanes, the canes that at some point had berries on them, and cut them down to the ground. Raspberries and blackberries are bad for spreading disease around the garden, so be sure to disinfect your pruners between plants and after the job (we recommend Lysol, Listerine, or PineSol). More about growing brambles.
  • DO clean up some things in the garden this fall - anything diseased such as black-spotted rose leaves, diseased fruit tree leaves, plus anything with seedheads that we don't want to aggressively self-propagate (eg ligularia, rose of sharon, and garlic chives). Otherwise, it's a good idea to Minimize fall cleanup.

    Don't fret the brown needles

    If your evergreens have yellow or brown needles, don’t despair; they aren’t dying! Some varieties of pine, spruce, cedar, and juniper shed their needles every winter in a process called abscission. The older needles on the interior of the tree turn yellow and drop, leaving the green tips. Next spring they will be replaced with fresh growth.
    Cedar with normal brown needles

    Design Tip of the Month

    Beautiful fall grasses are catching our eye right now. Here's an article outlining some great native grasses with beautiful images and ideas for companion plants. Our favourites are bluestem, switchgrass, June grass, bottlebrush, rye, prairie dropseed, and the beautiful Indian grass shown here.
    Sorghastrum - Indian Grass

    NO-NO of the Month

    Don't put dirty tools away to rust all winter! AND don't use bleach to clean them! Since I plan to do the minimum cleanup of my garden, I have time to do it right. So I'm committing to giving my tools a good cleaning using a stiff brush, a quick wipe with a household disinfectant, a spritz of rust-inhibiting oil, and then I will feel great about tucking them away until spring. Here's why we DON"T use corrosive chlorine bleach on tools.

    A Few Fall Posts from our Archives

    Fall Garden Tasks

    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.

    Read more
    Fall Gardening Tasks

    Protection of evergreens

    What should I do for my newly planted evergreen to give it the best possible chance of survival over the winter?

    Read more
    Winter Protection of evergreens

    Extend the season for edible crops

    We don't have to limit our growing and harvesting season just to those few short summer months. Many gardeners are now successfully growing and harvesting almost year round.

    Read more
    Extend the season for edible crops

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