Source(s): Bob Westerfield, Consumer Horticulturist
As the nights become cooler and the days get shorter, it is time for fall garden activities. Although our prime gardening season is over, many fall chores remain in preparation for next year’s gardening season.
Creating a checklist of chores to do now in the garden and yard is important. This way you won’t forget to complete important fall chores and cleanup jobs before the arrival of winter weather.
Clean Up the Vegetable Garden
Pull up and remove vegetable plants that may harbor insects or disease organisms and provide shelter for overwintering stages of diseases and insects. Pests will reproduce again next spring and add to next year’s pest problem. Add compost or organic matter and incorporate these material into the soil to improve aeration and drainage. Till in leaves and any insect and disease-free plants to improve soil tilth.
Plant spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, narcissus and hyacinths. Cooler temperatures condition bulbs to grow healthy roots that help produce attractive blooms next Spring. After planting, place chicken wire over the beds to prevent squirrels and chipmunks from digging up your bulbs.
Rather than bagging or burning leaves, take a few extra minutes and spread falling leaves as a layer of mulch in flower and vegetable gardens. Leaves serve as a barrier to help preserve soil moisture and add organic matter to the soil as they decay during the winter months. Chop up extra leaves by mulching with the lawn mower and then add the ground leaves to your compost pile.
Look for insect or diseased damaged branches. Remove any limbs that are dead or dying due to pest or drought injury. Always make clean pruning cuts and do not leave stubs. Place an old sheet or tarp under the tree’s canopy while pruning to collect the trimmings and make cleanup easier and quicker.
Check for Household Insects
Be on the lookout for insects that may begin to migrate indoors. Watch out for roaches and crickets – the two that cause the most alarm. Spiders, box elder bugs and ants can also be a problem. Spiders are actually beneficial, but not inside the house. Try to keep mulch away from the base of your house. Spray or use granular insecticides around the foundation, paying particular attention to doorways and windows.
Continue to Harvest Herbs
Continue to harvest annual herbs such as dill and basil. Look into preserving your herbs through freezing and drying for use all winter long. Avoid heavy pruning of perennial woody herbs such as rosemary and lavender. Severe pruning late in the season can weaken the plant and make it less winter hardy. Collect okra seedpods, gourds, sumac seed heads, rose hips and other plants from your garden that are suitable for dried arrangements.
Store Garden Equipment and Tools
Be sure to drain all hoses and store in the garage to avoid freezing and cracking. Empty the gas tank on your lawn mower, tiller, trimmer or other gas- powered equipment. Wipe and clean equipment and tools before storing inside over winter. If equipment is light-weight enough, try to hang on the wall to save walking space. Scrap dirt from shovels, hoes, trowels, etc then clean with soapy water. Wipe metal surfaces with an oily rag and wooden handles with linseed oil and sharpen blades and replace cord in trimmers.
Inspect the Landscape
Walk around your garden and grounds and tidy up the landscape by removing any dead or unthrifty plants. Make written or mental notes of which plants did not grow well so you can try something new next year. Remove any late-growing weeds to prevent late seed production, and thus, more weeds next year.
- Mona Adams, CEA- Richmond County. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
- James Morgan, CEA- Dougherty County. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
- Charles Phillips, CEC- Columbia County. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Center Publication Number: 162