It feels like Summer is barely over, but it’s time to start digging into Fall gardening prep. Working in your garden in early Fall will set you up for success come Spring.
Prepare your soil for prime health and enjoy some time outside in the crisp Fall air as sunlight hours start to wane.
By now, in most parts of the country, greens have gone to seed, tomatoes are done, and summer herbs have had their day in the sun. It’s time to clear out those annuals and replenish your garden's soil.
Replenishing our soil plays a vital role in sequestering carbon, improving water retention, and enhancing soil fertility. It’s a mission that sits at the heart of our company.
Let’s take a closer look at the role soil plays in carbon sequestration.
You’ll want to get into gear before the first freeze warning in your forecast so the ground is plenty warm enough to work with. As soon as the air starts to chill and several weeks before the first frost approaches, it’s time to retire that Summer garden and prepare for Winter.
- Pull up annuals
Remove spent plants from your garden, making sure to remove the roots, too. You can throw them in the commercial compost bin or toss healthy (pest- and disease-free) plants in your backyard compost.
- Clean it up!
Rake your garden to clean up leaves and sticks. Put them in the compost bin or dispose. (But save good roasting sticks for Autumn bonfire s’mores!)
- Weed thoroughly
It might seem tedious since nothing is growing, but Fall is the best time to weed as thoroughly as you possibly can! Many weeds are obnoxiously hardy and will stop at nothing—not even icy temperatures—to take root in your garden.
- Add soil supplements
Spring and Summer growing seasons can leave soil lacking in nutrients and needing replenishment. Fall is the ideal time to feed soil with an organic fertilizer, letting those micro- and macronutrients feed the soil microbiome all Winter.
Add an all-purpose plant food to your soil per instructions (granular works best for big areas) and turn the soil thoroughly to mix in.
Have a lawn? It's the perfect time to fertilize the lawn, as well.
- Turn soil
Besides mixing in that organic fertilizer, turning your garden’s soil will help aerate, break up clumped masses, expose any hidden weeds or leftover root systems, and more. It’s essential to turn soil in Fall if you want to have a healthy growing medium in Spring!
- Plant a cover crop
Ready to go pro? Another way to nourish your garden’s soil is to try a cover crop. Cover crops add organic matter and nutrients to soil and prevent erosion, setting you up for a flourishing Spring garden.
As you clear out rows of annuals and follow the clearing and preparation steps above, try planting a cover crop like rye or clover. It’s best to use annuals, not perennials, so you don’t get unwelcome “volunteer” cover crops infiltrating your Spring garden.
- Dig up summer bulbs
Remove those tender bulbs from the soil and set them in storage for next year.
Fall is a great time to add mulch to places in your garden that might need protection from erosion, and also around trees and other perennials.
- Plant hardy spring flowers & perennials
Plant perennials and bulbs in the Fall to give your garden color in the Spring. Be sure to research what these plants need—start by asking your local garden store. Typically, you’ll want to put these over-winter plants in the ground at least six weeks before the first frost hits your region, giving them the time to establish healthy roots.
- Take note
The best gardeners are also keen observers. How did your garden fare through the seasons? What crops were abundant and which could use some more tending? What kind of tasty recipes did you enjoy from your harvests?
Make observations and notes...and keep them somewhere you’ll be able to find them in Spring.
- Enjoy your last harvest!
Sometimes that last-of-the-season harvest is one of the most delightful: big squashes, full-bloom flowers, and perhaps even some final, sweet tomatoes (depending on your region).
You very well may have some fulfilling harvests through much of Fall, so don’t forget about your garden just because temperatures are dipping.
Savor those Autumn sun rays as you pick your last veggies, fruits, and flowers—there will be plenty more where that came from next year.
Join our community & receive tips on how to nourish your soil and planet and create a sustainable future!