When autumn comes, gardening is far from over – it’s only the second half of the season.
Autumn is an important season for your vegetable and flower garden. When the days get shorter and the last tomatoes do not ripen, there is no time for the dog days in summer as there is a lot to do.
Plant spinach Seeds.
If you want to roll through autumn with fresh leafy greens, plant spinach seeds in August so they are ready for an October harvest. If you like spinach at the beginning of spring, plant the seeds in October and let them hibernate.
Every few years you have to share hostas, geraniums, daylilies and the like. When the hostas get too full, dig out the entire plant and dig out the center (oldest part). Throw the middle hosta into the compost heap and plant the rest of the pieces in new locations. Many other plants just need to be dug up, carefully separated and transplanted. As a rule of thumb, flowering perennials in autumn and summer are divided in autumn and flowering perennials in spring. Here is a nice information sheet too Share perennials from Clemson University.
Harvest the potatoes early in the fall before frost. If the tips of the plants have not yet died, cut off the remaining tips and leave the potatoes in the ground for 1-2 weeks. This stops the bulb from growing and helps the skin to thicken so that it is well stored. To harvest the potatoes, run your hands through the vegetable patch and look for them. You can turn the bed with a shovel or garden fork to find the potatoes, but be careful not to cut them in two. Store potatoes in a trash can in a cool, dark, and humid room. Do not wash before storage – leave as is, dirt and everything.
Mulch garden beds.
It is important that you cover every square inch of your dormant vegetable garden beds and exposed areas of flower beds with mulch. Wind, freezing temperatures, snow, frost and ice affect your soil and may damage plant roots unless they are insulated with straw, wood shavings or other organic material. I always spread a thick layer of compost on the beds before mulching them to feed the soil over the winter.
Plant a cover crop.
In garden beds, many gardeners use cover crops in winter. A cover crop is grown for its insulating properties and to condition the soil, and is usually planted in the garden bed in spring. Examples of cover crops are oats, hair vetch, daikon radish or rye grass.
One of the easiest vegetables to grow is mid-October (in zone 6) the time to plant garlic for harvest next summer. Just buy your favorite garlic bulbs at an organic market, split off the cloves, peel them and plant them in about 2 inches of earth with a pointed end (for standard size garlic – larger bulbs need to be planted deeper). Make sure you mark where you planted the carnations as this is easy to forget in winter. New garlic leaves can protrude through the ground before the first snow.
Spring flowering bulbs should now be planted. Plant mid to late October to minimize the impact of autumn warm periods, which can lead to early growth. Spring flowering bulbs need a period of cold (winter) followed by warmth (spring) to bloom properly.
Transplant a perennial that doesn’t like their situation. If a flower or shrub has problems due to poor location, move it to another point on your property where it may work better. Autumn is an excellent time to plant or transplant because the air temperatures are cool but the soil is warm enough to promote substantial root growth.
Clean up the garden.
Cleaning up dead and rotting leaves is now important to prevent the development of fungal diseases in the beds. The exception is dried leaves, which you can crumble as compost directly into the garden bed or the lawn. Collect other leaves, stems and stems and throw them on the compost heap. Beware of infected or diseased parts of plants – it is best to put them in your trash can to reduce the risk of infection of other plants.
Add leaves, garden waste and kitchen waste to your compost heap and stir.
Get busy, there is a lot to do!