For many, the summer season is marked with vegetable gardening. The long days and warm weather are just what is required to coax peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables into ripeness. However, autumn features certain qualities that make it ideal for crops that do well in cooler temperatures.
In autumn, the cooler temperatures are easier on both gardeners and plants. Your soil is still warm, which allows roots to grow till the ground freezes. Plus, the season is marked by garden centres selling the last of their inventory before winter at a bargain price.
If you have had a particularly abundant growing season, consider looking at autumn as a season to rest and clean up your garden. In order to get your garden prepared for early autumn, here are a few tips that will help.
Clean Up Before Replanting
If you’ve tended your garden throughout summer by keeping it weeded, removed spent or diseased plants and haven’t stepped on the soil, your garden will likely not need much preparation. Instead, just clear the space, add compost and start planting. However, if your garden is a little ahead of your efforts, you should pay it some attention before the second planting season.
Fortunately, not a lot of heavy lifting is required and you won’t have to spend a huge amount of time out in the garden. Just get rid of weeds hiding under plants, spent plants and any fallen small fruits since they are likely to attract pests. If this will be your second planting season, make a note of what was planted where so you can practice crop rotation as best as possible.
Replenish Soil in Planting Beds
You will want to freshen garden soil, and the easiest way of doing this is by removing a mulch layer. If the mulch is still in good condition, it is possible to reuse it for fall preparation. However, if it’s already decomposed, you need to add a bit more, but make sure that the soil is ready for planting.
While renovating your garden, remember to divide and move your perennials at least a few weeks prior to your typical first hard frost. Doing this allows plants to recover from the shock of transplanting and establish better new roots. In addition, instead of cutting back on all your perennials, consider leaving a few of them.
Leave plants that have seed heads like ornamental grasses, asters and cornflowers to provide shelter to feathered creatures during the harsh months. Leave a few native shrubs and trees in the garden that offer late-season berries like beautyberry, viburnum and hawthorn for the seasonal colour as well as food for wildlife.
Extend the Season
If you don’t already have one, consider installing a small portable fire bowl or fire pit to take the chill off your cool fall evenings outside. Place the fire pit in your backyard area or on a patio where you already have seating space. Gather with friends and family to toast marshmallows and reminisce summer memories under the glow of an outdoor gas lantern.
Autumn is a time to wind down and let your garden rest; by preparing early, you’ll save a huge amount of time next spring, once the growing season is back on your to do list. At the moment, check these things off your early autumn to do list, so you’re prepared for any unexpected early snowfall or hard frost.
Fortunately, autumn showers are plentiful, so disease and pest problems fade away. Autumn planting ends in about six weeks before you are hit with hard frost, so prepare early.
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