If you want your garden to look its best come spring, there are some important tasks that you should do in the fall. These include planting cool season crops, tilling the soil, and planting cover crops. These tasks will help ensure that your garden is beautiful and vibrant next spring. Here are ten of the most important things to do in your garden in the fall.
Planting cool-season crops
Fall is the ideal time to plant cool-season crops like carrots, onions, and cabbage. These crops are low-growing and take advantage of the radiant heat that stays in the soil during the cooler months. Here are some tips on planting and growing these vegetables. Learn how deep to sow seeds, how long it takes to sprout, and when to harvest them.
You can plant these crops in late summer or early fall. Most greens, such as lettuce, can be harvested before the first frost. Some vegetables such as kale and beets can even survive a light frost and still produce a crop. These cool-weather vegetables are also suitable for overwintering. The good thing about them is that they are ready for harvesting in 50 to 60 days, unlike other crops that need a longer growing season to mature.
Knowing your frost-free date is vital when choosing the best fall vegetables to plant. Many of these vegetables can tolerate a little warmer temperatures than their summer counterparts, but they may not grow as well. If you are unsure of what to plant in your area, you can use a frost-free map or check with your local nursery.
You can also plant cool-season vegetables indoors. This is especially beneficial if you live in an area where temperatures are warm. Cool-season vegetables do best in air-conditioning. In addition, make sure to use high-quality seed-starting mix to plant your fall vegetables. Also, remember to clean the seed containers with bleach solution before reusing them.
The next step in fall vegetable planting is to prepare your soil. The soil should be tilled about six inches before planting. Once the soil is prepared, you can add the desired seeds. It is also recommended to remove any under-performing crops and weeds. These plants may steal moisture from young plants.
Tilling the soil
The most common time to till your garden is in spring, but it is important to wait until late fall or winter before doing so. In fall, the soil is drier and works better for tilling. In spring, the soil is still wet and the tiller may not be able to penetrate the soil deeply enough to break up any lumps. In addition, if you are planting seeds in your garden, you need to avoid tilling the soil too deeply or you’ll disturb the roots.
Another great reason to till the soil in your garden in fall is to incorporate old plant matter into the soil. This material will break down and enrich the soil over the winter. It will also blend in with the roots of summer crops and make the soil cleaner. Tilling in fall also allows you to plant a cover crop in your garden and make it more nutritious for your plants.
Rototilling the soil in your garden in fall is an excellent way to increase structure and tilth. This process will also kill insects and disease organisms in your soil. Also, it will allow your garden to benefit from more frost and thaw cycles in the winter.
Another benefit of tilling the soil in your garden in fall is that it will help the soil break down and become more easily cultivated in the spring. Adding compost and manure to your garden will improve its quality, which will result in healthier plants. Spread the compost evenly over the garden, preferably between one and two inches deep. Then, use a lightweight tiller or cultivator to mix the compost into the soil.
One downside of tilling the soil in your garden in fall is that it increases the weeds that you have in your garden. By the end of the summer, many weeds have already established their seed heads. In addition, the freshly tilled soil is also hard, dry, and weedy.
Planting cover crops
Before planting your cover crops, it is important to remove all weeds and annual plants. You can also add organic fertilizer to your soil to ensure the cover crop will grow well. Depending on the species you choose, you can either till the soil, or leave it fallow for a few months. Regardless of the method, a cover crop is a great way to enrich and energize your soil.
In order to ensure that your cover crop seed germinates and grows quickly, you need to give it a couple weeks to establish itself. Spread the seeds evenly and lightly rake them into the soil. You can also spread straw over the top of the cover crop to keep the soil moist until the seedlings grow.
Cover crops are important because they break up the soil and help it retain nutrients. They can also snuff out weeds. Additionally, they are a great way to break up a hard soil and add organic matter to it. They also can discourage harmful nematodes that can harm your plants.
After planting your cover crops, you can let them do their thing until spring. Depending on the weather, your cover crops might remain green all winter, or they may die off in the winter. It all depends on the hardiness of your chosen varieties. By using cover crops in your garden in fall, you’ll not only protect your garden from weeds and prevent erosion, but also add vital nutrients to your soil.
There are three types of cover crops. Most of them are annuals, but there are also some perennials. These include alfalfa, red clover, and crown vetch. Annuals are used for mulch, while perennial cover crops are used for biomass production and erosion control.
Weeds in the fall are the perfect time to apply a preemergence herbicide. This is best done in September before the plants have germinated. The chemical to use depends on the type of weed you have. For example, if you have a flower garden, you can use Preen. As always, read the label before using any pest control chemicals in your garden.
Weeding in your garden in fall is also a good time to tackle the toughest weeds in your garden. Dandelions, white clover, and Creeping Charlie will be easier to control with chemical applications during the fall. Many of these weeds are herbaceous perennials, meaning they live off the same root structure year after year. As the weather cools and the fall approaches, herbaceous perennials die back and move their energy to their roots in order to survive the winter.
If you are concerned about the quality of your soil, you should weed your garden in fall. You can also use preemergence herbicide to kill crabgrass seed before it starts growing. This will prevent the weeds from flowering during spring. It’s also a good time to check for weeds that flower in the spring.
Weeds can compete with your desired plants for water, space, and nutrients. They can also choke out other plants. Moreover, they can put pressure on mature trees. Therefore, it’s important to pull weeds before the soil dries out. In addition, water the area you are weeding before you start pulling weeds.
Another tip for weeding in the fall is tilling your garden area. This will not only help with weeds, but it will also help kill the plants you’ve already pulled. Also, tilling the ground will help kill any remaining weed seeds and insects and will speed up the decomposition process. You can also expose these insects and weed seeds to hungry birds.
Fall is a great time to clean tools for your garden. Keeping your garden tools in good condition is essential to creating a beautiful yard. By cleaning them regularly, you can protect them from damage and preserve their efficiency for many seasons to come. You should also take care of the hoses and remove any water or debris from them.
Patio furniture can collect dirt and debris throughout the winter. If necessary, wash it with a hose and soapy water. You can also use a broom to sweep away debris from patios and decks. It will also make it easier to reach crevices and corners in your garden. Having the right tools for the job will make your garden clean-up less time-consuming in the spring.
Before you store your gardening tools for the winter, you should clean them thoroughly. Soil and other materials can damage the metal parts of your tools and cause them to rust. It is important to clean them properly and store them properly to maintain their performance. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension provides a list of the steps you should take to clean your gardening tools.
For tools that come into contact with soil, you should rinse them well with water and use a stiff-bristled brush to remove any caked-on dirt. If your tools are smaller, you can use a toothbrush for cleaning them. Cutting tools, such as pruners and scissors, need a different cleaning process. Using sap removal products, such as turpentine, will ensure the blades are free of sap and residue.