While fall ushers in a season of cozy sweaters, football, and your favorite pumpkin-flavored foods, it’s also the time when you hang up your gardening tools. Before you pack it in, however, there are a few important things you need to do before the first frost. This extra effort can do wonders to help ensure a thriving garden and inviting outdoor living space next spring. Following are our top tips:
Do a deep clean: Pulling weeds helps prevent their reappearance next year. Digging up decaying vegetables reduces the risk of any disease that might stay in the soil. Dispose of rotting fruits, too, since those can attract pests.
Burn the bad: Anything you dig up that has signs of disease should be thrown into a burn pile, as these can infect next year’s soil. Ditto for weeds that have gone to seed.
Compost the good: Composting lets you turn all that decaying matter into fertile soil for next year. So instead of throwing everything away, start a compost pile. Grass clippings and fallen leaves are also great for compost, so use that too. There’s more to composting then just throwing dead plant matter on a pile, however. To learn more, you can read about composting on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
Winter mulch: Depending on the types of plants you grow, winter mulch may be necessary for a part, or all of your garden. Since mulch can be a vital component of a thriving garden, but one size might not fit all, your best bet is to thoroughly research the ideal mulching options specific to your type of garden vegetables.
Take notes: While you’re doing this work, make a record of what plants were successful, which weren’t, which stayed healthy, which fell victim to pests and disease, etc. Keeping good notes about your garden can help with planning over the winter, while also offering you time to research and correct things that didn’t go right.
Fluff the soil: Loosening up soil that has compacted over the summer can make it easier for roots to grow, and moisture to get down to the roots. A garden fork and a little elbow grease should do the trick. If you’re already composting, this can also be a good time to work in some finished compost.
Grow indoor plants: Get your gardening fix during the cold months by adding plants to your living room, dining room, bedroom, and office. These, accompanied with a tasteful selection of home accents, can keep things cheerful while you wait for spring planting!
Store patio furniture: Fall is the perfect time to show some love to your outdoor living space too. To keep your outdoor furniture and decorative accents in top shape, shake out or vacuum the cushions. If any spots are visible, clean them with mild soap and water (making sure to air dry afterward). Lubricate any moving parts, and store as much as possible in your garage, basement, or shed. If inadequate storage space is available, invest in covers to protect your patio furnture from the elements.