Correct any soil deficiencies you’ve noticed. Healthy soil is crucial to healthy plants.
Gardening "To Do" Tips by Month for Northampton, MA
Fertilize your lawn. Lawns fertilized in the fall are better equipped to survive the winter. Reseed in bare patches.
It’s a good time to order spring-flowering bulbs.
Begin cutting back on watering of the garden and lawn (except newly seeded areas) so that plants can prepare for dormancy (not growth).
Transplant rhubarb, strawberries, and raspberries well before the first light frost so that some root development may take place. Rhubarb and strawberries deplete the soil of nutrients in a short time, so find new locations for them every three or four years.
Aerate your lawn if the soil is compacted. Have your soil tested to see if you need lawn fertilizer.
This is a great time to plant new trees and shrubs because the new roots will have plenty of time to become established before the spring.
Potatoes are ready for harvest when their tops begin to turn brown.
Delay pruning trees and shrubs until early next spring; however, you should remove any broken and diseased branches.
Watch for frost forecasts. Harvest tomatoes before the first killing frost. Ripen indoors away from sunlight.
Be sure to keep harvesting your fruit and vegetables so that the upcoming frost does not destroy them.
Harvest brussels sprouts and parsnips once they’ve been exposed to frost.
As you empty annual beds, clean out all dead plants. A clean garden will have fewer diseases next spring. Add manure, compost, and leaves to provide it with more organic matter.
Be sure to throw away any fallen fruit to help keep away any unwanted pests from your yard.
Onions are nearly ripe when the tips of the leaves turn yellow. Break them at the necks. This will speed the final ripening process. Loosen the soil to encourage drying, and after a few days turn them up and let them cure on dry ground. Always handle them very carefully — the slightest bruise will encourage rot to set in.
Save the seeds from your self-pollinating flowers, such as marigolds, cosmos, or coneflowers, to plant next spring by drying them and storing them in closed containers.
Dig up your rosemary, basil, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, English thyme, parsley, and chives to grow them inside as houseplants. Keep them in a cool, sunny spot, and allow the soil to dry out before watering. Snip off the leaves as needed in the kitchen, but do not strip them completely.
Plant any perennials. Divide and replant overcrowded perennial beds. Remember to apply a layer of organic matter to the new bed.
In emptied vegetable gardens, consider planting cover crops such as buckwheat or annual rye that will protect the soil until you’re ready to plant again.
Do not fertilize annuals. Cut back annuals when they finish flowering.
Plant spring bulbs as long as the ground is workable. Plant the following bulbs soon: trout lily,tulip, narcissus (including daffodil), snowdrop, winter aconite, starflower, and crown imperial. For crown imperial, add a little lime to the soil.
Fall is the best time to start lawn grasses from seed. Till the soil before sowing and provide several light waterings each week.
If you haven’t brought your houseplants in yet, do it before you have to start heating your home. This gives them a chance to adjust. Wash them thoroughly before bringing them in to rid them of any pests and eggs.
Young trees should be staked to prevent the roots from being pulled by fall and winter winds.
Check coniferous trees for tip damage on new growth. If the tips have been mutilated by borers or otherwise damaged, remove them and establish a new leader by forcing a new side shoot into an upright position.