Published September 20, 2013
The gardening season is coming to a close, but it’s not entirely over yet. If you’re an avid green thumb, you can still squeeze a little more out of the growing season. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of the end of the year and how to get your garden set up for next year.
Plant Bulbs For Spring Flowers
Fall is the perfect time to plant bulbs like tulips, irises and crocuses, which need a winter freeze to start their growing process. By getting them in the ground now, you will ensure a colorful garden by early spring. For best results, plant bulbs once temperatures are in forties and fifties, but several weeks before the ground completely freezes.
Look for Discounts
Get a jump on next year’s garden by buying gardening equipment, seeds and plants at discounted prices. Many garden centers slash prices in the fall months to move unsold stock. Store seed packets in the freezer to keep them fresh, and keep discount seedlings going indoors until you can replant them next spring.
Repot Overgrown Plants
If a summer’s worth of growth has caused your plants to outgrow their homes, take some time this fall to replant them in larger containers. Dense or compacted soil, poor drainage, or roots creeping out of the bottom of a pot are sure signs that plants are root bound and struggling for more space.
Depending on what region you live in, winter doesn’t have to be a dead season. Some hearty plants like kale, lettuce, broccoli and chard thrive in colder temperatures and can even tolerate the occasional frost. As long as snow stays off the ground and the temperatures don’t dip below freezing for too long, these plants will continue to grow, allowing you to garden into the winter months.
Plant Some Quick Growers
September isn’t too late to grow a final crop. Many vegetables can go from seed to table in as little as four to six weeks, giving you vegetables by late October or early November. Radishes can be grown in around 25 days, and some leafy greens like spinach take as little as 40 days to grow, so get in a final few vegetables before the frost sets in.
Plant Shrubs and Saplings
If you plan on adding trees and shrubs to your yard, fall is the best time to do it. By planting these plants in the fall, you’ll give their roots a chance to get established and avoid the withering effects of the summer sun. You’ll want to plant trees and shrubs in the ground a few weeks before the first frost, and if you live in an area with colder temperatures and heavy snows, wrap their branches and leaves in burlap to protect them from their first winter.
Once your garden has gone to seed and perennial plants have run through their life cycle, it’s time to trim them back. Not only will it clean up an overgrown garden, but it will give the plants more energy next year, and limit potential garden problems like powdery mildew or insect infestations.
Fertilize the Lawn
While it might look like your lawn has shut down for the season, a little lawn care in the fall months will guarantee a lush, green garden next spring. Growth slows above the surface in autumn, but beneath the soil, your lawn is still hard at work establishing strong roots. Help it out this fall with a good mix of phosphorus-rich fertilizer, which helps strengthen roots.