Easy ways to transition your garden from summer to fall
For some, the decreasing daylight, falling leaves, crisper air, and seemingly perpetual overcast sky offer a welcome respite from the tedious upkeep of outdoor chores. Tending to a garden - even just a few potted tomatoes - requires a passion, patience, and diligence.
Understandably, as the warm months fizzle out, even the most fervent of enthusiasts can begin to grow a little weary and seek a break from the gardening routine. However, the diehard horticulturalist understands that outdoor obligations do not end just because the days are getting shorter. In fact, there's a whole world of al fresco activities that can be done after the first inkling of autumn and before that first fatal frost.
If you're not quite ready to relinquish your responsibilities and take refuge indoors, here is a list of easy ways you can transition your garden from Indian summer to full-fledged fall.
Annuals are only good for one year. When their time is up, they won't be returning. As fall begins and those hot, sunny days are officially over, go through your garden and remove all annuals.
In the fall, perennial plants begin to go dormant, cleverly moving all life-sustaining elements to their underground extremities. With no more growing to be done, this makes for an ideal time to grab these pesky reoccurring nuisances by the root and remove them from the premises. Permanently.
Plants that are infected with disease need to be cared for. That means inspecting your garden for any signs of blotchy leaves and carefully removing those leaves. Since diseases are transmitted by wind, rain, insects, and other animals, make sure you properly dispose of the infected parts. Typically, this means by burial or burning.
Bring indoor plants back inside
Once it drops below 45 °F at night, those plants that thrive in warmer temperatures are going to start suffering. You'll need to move them back inside before it gets too chilly. But before you do, thoroughly check for insects and disease and treat appropriately. Remember, sudden changes in temperature, light, and humidity can be fatal to plants. Once inside, give them an abundance of light to allow them to adjust. It's okay to add a little fertilizer - just be certain not to overwater.
Replenish your colors
Believe it or not, fall usually has more optimum planting days than spring. Once you've cleared away the unwanted items from your summer garden, fall is an excellent time to plant. Don't worry, you won't be stuck with an orange and brown color scheme. There are numerous flowers that can bloom in the fall, so your autumn garden will come alive with vibrant pinks and purples and yellows and whites and even reds.
Plant some veggies
There are many vegetables that have a short maturity time and grow in cooler weather. Spinach, lettuce, kale, and cabbage are just a few of the greens you can enjoy in the fall. Additionally, root crops such as carrots and radishes actually taste sweeter when they are harvested after it has turned cold.
Add some mulch
Late season mulching can help block weeds, maintain moisture, and insulate the soil - both from end of summer heat and start of winter cold. This helps prolong the growing season and will allow your fall garden to flourish.
Leave some leaves
Leaves offer much of the same benefits of mulch. Plus, as they break down, they add nutrients to the soil. You can lighten your workload by leaving some leaves behind to help provide nutrients and insulation to your garden.
Refrain from pruning
There's nothing that makes a fellow feel more dapper than a fresh trim. Your trees feel the same way. However, not at this time of year. Just like people, trees need to heal after a cut. If you trim back branches as the growing season comes to an end, it creates an open wound that could be there for months, inviting disease, insects, rot and decay. Fight that impulse to tidy up too much.
Clear away the deadwood
Broken or dead limbs are a different matter altogether. Because they are already broken (wounded) or dead, there's no increased harm in pruning them away. Additionally, dead or broken branches that haven't been removed by the end of the growing season can become hazards. High winds and wet snow can be the catalysts that turn a large limb into an instrument of destruction. Clearing away the deadwood is more of a safety issue than it is an appearance concern.
Autumn isn't the time to abandon your outdoor chores. The few weeks leading up to the frost can be marvelously rewarding. With just a minimum of effort, you can transition your summer garden into a resplendent fall spectacle.
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.