Fall Gardening Tips

Summer is nearly over, but there's still so much you can do to keep your garden healthy and ensure a rewarding and productive harvest next year. Putting in a little work now will save you time and effort and help you get planting as early as possible in the spring, so keep these fall gardening tips in mind this year. 

Plant a Round of Cold-Hardy Vegetables

In much of the US and Canada, collard greens, kale, turnips, and many types of lettuce do very well in the fall. Check to see what plant hardiness zone you're in for more precise guidance on what to plant and when. If you choose the right crops, you can probably get one last harvest of tasty home-grown vegetables before winter sets in.

Clean Up Your Beds

As the weather cools, you'll want to focus on garden cleanup. Pull out any dead annuals and trim back dead material from dormant perennials to create healthy growing space for next year. This is a great opportunity to save any mature seeds. Dead material from healthy plants can be added to your compost pile, but if any plants show signs of disease, it's best to burn that material or bag it and send it to a landfill. Some diseases are very persistent and can survive to wreak havoc next year.

Lay Out Compost

This year's planting will have changed the soil composition of your garden. Some plants consume a lot of nutrients, while others actually deposit certain nutrients as part of their growth process. If your soil needs more organic material, fall is a great time to lay out compost, because there's no need to till it in. Over the winter, precipitation and microorganisms will slowly work it into the ground for you. Soil testing in the fall can be very helpful in determining this season's impact on the soil and setting yourself up for success next year, so check to see if adding compost is the right strategy.

Expand your Growing Space

If you're planning to expand your garden or build a new bed, you'll find it easier to get this work done when the weather is cool and you're not busy tending a growing garden. If you're planning a raised bed, you can assemble and fill it in the fall. If you're planning an in-ground bed, you can smother the grass and test the soil to determine if you'll need to add amendments or if your soil is already rich and healthy enough for planting. If you find a spot with high-quality soil to plant in, it will save you a lot of time and effort spreading compost and fertilizer.

Clean and Store Your Tools

Dirt and moisture will cause your tools to corrode, and if your storage space is disorganized you might wrongly think you've lost a tool and waste money re-buying it. Wash, scrub, and thoroughly dry any tools with clinging dirt, and put them away somewhere safe from rain. Hanging tools on a pegboard in your shed or garage so everything is visible is a good solution, but a weatherproof outdoor storage chest will do just fine.

Happy planting! If you have questions about your soil's nutrient profile, texture, or other characteristics, trust the experts at Element Certified for clear and thorough soil testing.

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