Fall Chores: Autumn Garden Cleanup
It’s time to start on those fall garden chores. Here is a to-do list for fall vegetable garden cleanup.
Last year, we did not get our first killing frost until mid-October, almost a month later than usual, giving us a good long growing season this year. Check the frost dates in your area and find out how to predict frost yourself.
Until that frost, even tender vegetables such as beans, cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, bok choy, and squash have time to mature and gave us a second taste of spring before the temperatures plummet. Find out how to extend your growing season and protect your plants from frost.
Time to clean it all up and get ready for next year. Many of next season’s problems can be avoided by careful fall cleanup.
Gardening Tips for Fall Garden Cleanup
- Any spent plants should be removed. If they had bugs or were diseased, get them off your property. You don’t want to add anything to your compost pile that could harbor diseases or insects.
- Just one weed left to mature can produce hundreds, if not thousands, of seeds that will grow into weeds to plague you next year, so weed the garden one last time. I have been digging perennial weeds such as dock—whose roots go down to China—out of the flower beds. The holes left behind are perfect spots to plant spring-flowering bulbs. Bye-bye noxious weeds, hello spring color!
- Fall is a great time to create new planting beds. No digging necessary! Just set your mower as low as it will go and scalp the grass, then cover the area with a thick layer of newspapers. Cover the papers with a layer of compost and top it all off with lots of chopped leaves. In the spring you’ll have a lovely new planting bed full of worms.
- While the mower is out, mow around the fruit trees one last time to discourage mice from nesting there.
- Install mouse guards made of fine mesh hardware cloth around the base of your fruit trees to keep mice and voles from eating the bark and killing the trees over the winter. Find out more about keeping mice and voles out of the garden.
- If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to make a note of what plants were grown where in your vegetable garden. Don’t rely on your memory! This will help in planning next year’s planting. It is never good to grow plants in the same family in the same place year after year. Not only does it allow pests and diseases specific to that family to become entrenched, it also depletes the soil of the same nutrients each year.
- While we are talking nutrients, fall is a great time to get your soil tested. Take a representative sample by mixing scoops of soil from several beds located around the garden instead of from just one spot. Armed with the recommendations from the test, you can apply the right amounts of the proper amendments this fall so they will have time to break down and be available to your plants next spring. No guess work or expensive mistakes! See more about testing your soil for a better garden.
What’s on your to-do list for fall garden chores? Let us know below!
About This Blog
Get inspired by Robin Sweetser's backyard gardening tips. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer's Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer's Market.