Great Ways to Stay Busy in the Garden (or Greenhouse!) this Fall
It’s that time of year again! The weather is getting cooler and the trees are shedding their leaves. For some people, fall simply means decorating their yards with pumpkins and mums and enjoying warm apple drinks and desserts. For growers, it means another season filled with plenty to do!
Autumn is a great time to clean out your garden or greenhouse and prepare for next spring. It is also a great time to get some cool-weather crops in the ground since a season without growing is really no fun at all. At Growers Supply, we are cleaning out our growing spaces at our offices and hearing stories from employees who are doing the same at home. So, we wanted to share some ways to keep fellow growers out in the dirt through the colder months.
Diggin’ in the Dirt
Why keep dried out old plant material in the ground any longer than you have to? Leftover pieces from summer crops can keep diseases, such as blight, in the soil to prey on the next set of plants you grow. Make sure to get as much of the decayed plant material as you can. This includes leaves, stems and any underground dwellers that may have been missed during harvesting. A great way to dispose of this plant material is composting! Composting will turn this growing season’s trash into next year’s treasure. The great compost you’ve made from your garden rubbish can add nutrients to soil that have been depleted all summer long.
Give your Soil a Check-Up
Growing plants can take a lot out of your soil. It is important that you make sure it’s ready for next year’s plants by doing a few simple tests. Testing kits are fairly inexpensive and can tell you quite a bit about the status of your soil. For example, make sure you are on top of the pH level so that it can be adjusted and ready for spring planting.
What to Plant?
Depending on where you are located and how much temperatures have already dropped, you have a few options that will keep you planting for a little longer. There are a variety of crops that thrive in cooler temperatures, so why not get one last harvest out of your growing space? For example, garlic can be planted mid-fall and will basically grow itself! Since garlic is such a great addition to most dishes, now is a good time to grow enough to add a kick of flavor to your meals during the winter and spring. Other cool-weather crops include broccoli, kale, peas and radishes. So, if you are missing your garden-fresh veggies, get out there and keep on growing!
If harvesting in colder temperatures sounds less than appealing, you can plant spring bulbs instead. If you get your bulbs into the ground in the fall, they will have plenty of time to develop strong, healthy root systems. Some great bulbs to plant this time of year include tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and more. If you want to be aware of where each type of flower is located, stick some plant labels or stakes in the ground near the bulbs. The best time to get your bulbs in the ground is right around the first frost in your area. Be careful to plant them pointy end up a few inches into the soil and then wait for spring!
So you don’t want to keep harvesting into the fall and spring flowers aren’t really your thing; there is still another option! Planting cover crops can protect your growing area from weeds, pests and diseases, while keeping the soil in good planting condition. Cover crops take very little effort to plant and will keep working all winter long. Whether you have a tiny backyard garden or miles of fields, cover crops are for you. Simply rake up the soil and spread the seeds all over the space. Depending on what type of cover crop you grow, some maintenance is required. Mowing is a good idea to keep most types manageable, but check with your seed supplier when purchasing for more specific care instructions. Last but not least, cover crops need water, too! Keep them hydrated so they perform to the best of their abilities.
Once the canning and freezing is done for the season, head back outside and start checking some garden chores off your list! These are just a few examples of fall gardening tasks that can help prepare your growing space for next spring. We hope you find plenty more ways to keep your green thumb busy, no matter how low temperatures get this year.
Did we miss an important fall growing task? Share it with us here.