Many gardeners are now saying that “fall is the new spring”… Why? Put simply, there are so many crops in this season, and so many things to do during fall and to prepare your garden for it, that it’s become one of the busiest times of the year!
So, with the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” approaching, what can you do to make your vegetable garden indeed fruitful, or to make your decorative garden look beautiful? Here is a list of “must do” activities for you!
Clean Your Beds and Pathways
The end of summer is a good time to tidy up your garden, be it a vegetable garden or a decorative one. This is because the new season will bring moisture and many more leaves and organic matter that will soon start rotting on the ground.
So, with a combination of high temperature, rising humidity and accumulating heaps of leaves and branches, this is the time when fungi and bacteria start looking for a place to call home.
Nip this in the bud by making sure that you clean leaves, twigs, branches and all possible “nesting grounds” for pathogens, and put them in your compost heap.
CTTO: Maritime Gardening
Check the Health of Your Soil
Having cleared your garden, you can now focus on checking that the soil is healthy and fertile. You see, summer is a season that gives a lot in terms of fruits and vegetables, but heat and dry weather, combined with fruit and leaf production, may also mean that the soil becomes impoverished.
If you want to make the best out of your autumn veggies and flowers, then this is then this is the time to add some mature compost to the ground.
First of all, take some soil in your hands and wet it; roll it into a ball, and if it does not hold together, but instead it breaks down too easily, you will need to add organic matter. Most gardeners will just recognize how well fertilized the soil is with a look at the color of the soil, but this is a practical way of assessing it.
If instead it forms clay pellets, you will want to add both compost and sand, to break it down.
Plant Green Manure
Green manure is a crop (like clover) that you plant to fertilize the land. This is a well established practice in agriculture and farming, and the best time to start with it is before fall sets in.
“Why is it so,” you may ask? You want to give your green manure crop the time to establish itself before winter comes, so, plant it at the end of summer, give it the whole of fall to grow into strong plants that will then be able to stand the rigors of winter.
Instead, if the plants are too young and tender, they risk dying, and barren soil in winter means serious nutrient loss. Very serious indeed!
So, especially if you are on a crop rotation regime, if you have chosen which part of your land you want to give a rest to, now it is time to seed your green manure fields.
Take to the Compost Heap!
Late summer and fall are great times to be generous with compost! You see, with the heat, your compost will mature fast and well, and compost will normally be at its best, at its most nutrient from late summer till the temperature drops.
So, use it now that it is at its most useful. This is, remember, also the time when you will add a lot new organic matter to your compost heap, so, you will top it up as you go along.
Time to Sow Your Slow-Growing Vegetables!
Cabbages, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are, in fact, winter vegetables, but they can take up to 4 months (about 16 weeks) before they are ready for harvesting. So, don’t wait for the “official” season to start… Get ahead and as soon as the temperature drops to “autumnal”, sow these brassicaceae, and you will have an early crop.
Start Preparing Windscreens
If you live in a region where winters are cold and windy, you will know that the wind usually picks up long before the actual winter season starts. In some places, as soon as summer is over, cold winds sweep in.
If this is your case, it’s time for some windscreen maintenance! If your windscreens are live, with tall hedges, bushes and even trees, maybe it’s time to start pruning dry branches, that may become a hazard, look at posts and trellises etc. If they are not, do check that your screens are still strong and safe and repair them where needed.
Clean Your Irrigation System
Whether you use pipes and hoses or ditches (or both), this is the time to give them a quick and early tidy up and cleaning. If you wait till late in fall, the soil, ditches and even pipes themselves may have far too many leaves and twigs to make this operation comfortable.
Instead, a quick going look and tidy up now will make it easier for you later on.
Collect Wood Now!
If you have any wood (for heating, burning, building etc.) to collect, this is the right time to do it. Don’t wait till fall comes, with its thunderstorms and heavy rains because, of course, it will make the wood wet.
Instead, collect it now and you will be able to dry it before the hot season is over.
A Busy Time of the Year
The end of summer is indeed a busy time of the year, but even more than this, it is a strategic time of the year, one when you have to think ahead. But follow these guidelines, plan properly, and you will see that all your hard work will become very fruitful indeed, like fall in Keats’s poem!