It will cool down soon and working in the garden will be pleasant once again. There’s really no reason to run around primping the garden, the way we do in spring and early summer. Fall is the perfect time to do a few jobs that will set you ahead next spring. Listen in, or keep reading for the full write-up.
This is the time of year when I look for easy, immediate gratification tasks to do in and around the garden. I figure if I’m hot, just think how my poor plants feel out there all day. They don’t want to be bothered any more than I want to have to fuss with them.
But there are always a few good hours, either in the early morning or later in the evening, when it’s actually nice to spend some time outdoors.
One thing that’s easy enough to do is collecting seed. I’m letting some of the annuals I plant every year go to seed at this point. I want to give them time to fully dry, before the rains of autumn. It’s also easier to know what color I’m collecting if some of the plant is still in bloom. So my cleome, cosmos, and poppy seeds are finding their way into small brown envelopes, which I’ll collect in a canning jar and store away for winter. Come the first sunny days of spring, I’ll toss them where I want them and have a few less areas to plant or prune back.
I can also pull out the bird feeders and give them a scrubbing. I take them down in the spring and replace them with hanging baskets. I need the birds to munch on the insects in my garden, during summer. It keeps the pest population down and provides them with protein. But they need their seed in winter and I can’t put the feeders back up without washing them first. That’s a lot easier to do when my fingers aren’t frozen.
Some years I take cuttings of my foliage plants, like coleus and plectranthus, but I plan to give myself a respite from their care this winter. If you have some you want to save for next season, early September is the best time to get started. The plants are still robust and you have time to take more, if the first cuttings fail – as they so easily can.
I’m hoping to drag a few less plants indoors this year. Wish me luck. I don’t know about you, but I say that every year and yet, there’s always a full basement and competition for the best spots under the lights. Well, the best spots go to the cats. The plants have got to settle.
One final task on my must do list (since it was leftover from the spring), is to remake the raised beds in my vegetable garden. True, I can’t really do that until I’ve finished harvesting, but I want to have the lumber and corners ready to go. Right now I have 4 large beds, about 6 ft. deep. I can reach to the center, but it’s not as easy as my lazy self would like. Since the old wood is starting to give out, I plant to re-do them 4 ft. wide. Just can’t decide if I want small squares or long, thin beds. If you have advice to pass along, it would be welcome.
One thing I’m certain of is using those easy, plastic raised bed corners. I’ve had mine for almost 20 years and they’ve held up better than the planks. They make moving the beds a cinch, except for shoveling all the soil.
That’s the final piece of this puzzle. I have to see how much usable compost is at the bottom of the bins and how much I need to order. Fall is a terrific time to amend the beds, and since I never have time to do it in the spring, it’s a priority. If you do one thing this fall to improve next year’s garden, adding compost should be it. So get out there and turn your compost pile. Well, wait until it cools off a bit. But put it on your list.
I’m sure cooler weather is just around the corner and when it comes, we’ll start complaining that summer goes too quickly. It’s just par for the course, in this area.