Fall is in the air, which means it is time to start our fall garden tasks to prep for next year. Read on for my plan and tips to keep your gardening going through the cooler months! This post may contain affiliate links.
Fall Garden Prep & Tasks To Do Now
Fall is almost here, I cannot believe it! August is a great time to get your Fall garden and landscape tasks set and put into action – you can get a whole extra season out of your veggie beds if planned correctly!
I’m so excited for today’s post to go over a little bit of my plan, my tips and things on my to-do list for my fall gardens. Fall is such a nice season to be in the garden because temps are cooler but crops still want to grow!
Two things to know/look up before you get started:
- Check your USDA Hardiness Zone so you know when your first frost date is, you’re going to want to pant most crops about 8 weeks before that date in order to get a harvest.
- Check mature-by time frames on the crops you are looking to plant! Just run a quick google search like “broccoli days to harvest” or “days to maturity” and write all that info down so you know how far ahead to plant!
7 Tips for Prepping & Planting Your Fall Garden
1. Clearing Beds & Amending Soil
The first thing to do for your fall garden is clear some space and amend the soil.
For us, our cucumbers stopped producing after they got ripped up and drowned during the hurricane (sad!!), our kale got decimated by caterpillars (sad again!!), our beans and peas were at the end of their season and our carrots finally finished up. So we are pulling all those crops to make room for the cool-weather loving ones, nothing like starting fresh!
What’s left in the beds? We still have tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, swiss chard and all our herbs still producing!
After you pull the “done” summer crops make sure to add a good amount of compost and worm castings back into the soil before planting your fall crops, this will give them a healthy foundation and a great head start.
2. Choosing & Planting Fall Crops
Don’t stop vegetable gardening just because it’s cold out, there are plenty of veggies that actually prefer colder weather!
Lettuces and greens prefer the coolness and will mature quickly, before intense winter cold sets in (and some even taste better with a touch of frost, like kale), so definitely try growing some of those.
You can try planting lettuces, spinach, mustard greens, chard, celery, collards and arugula and like I said above, be sure to mix a rich compost and worm castings back into your vegetable beds to give those fall edibles a good head start.
In very cold regions, frost blankets can protect lettuces and tender greens into colder months.
Other cool-weather veggies you can try are root crops like carrots, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi and beets. The brassica family thrives in cooler temps so definitely try some broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and brussel sprouts. Peas also like it cooler so you can try a round two of those as well!
ALSO! Don’t forget now is the time to plant veggie bulbs, like garlic! I can’t wait to grow garlic this year in my garden, we grow it at the farm but I’ve never had it in my own yard!
You plant garlic in the fall and harvest in the late spring – extremely long maturity time! But sooooo worth it – garlic is both delicious and healthy AND helps repel insects, namely BEETLES, which I don’t know about you guys, but I battled hardcore this year and would love to not have to do that!
Veggies & flowers I will be planting:
- Brussel Sprouts (another one that tastes best when harvested after a frost!)
- Lettuce & Spinach
Seeds vs. Starts
Root veggies and peas always do best direct-sowed from seed straight into the ground, so we will be planting those crops from seed this weekend! Lettuces and greens (like spinach and arugula) we will also be doing from seed because they are so quick and easy, and because we will sow about three successive rounds over 4-6 weeks. I definitely recommend trying these crops especially for beginner seed starting!
Brassica family plants we will be purchasing and planting starts! It’s easier, huge time saver and saves a ton of frustration, which I’m all about these days! It’s my goal to one day to do everything from seed but for now there’s no harm in using starts for some!
For more on seed starting, check out THIS POST!
3. Ordering & Planting Spring Bulbs
If you haven’t already now is the time to order your early spring-flowering bulbs! Fall is the time for planting bulbs like daffodils, tulips, muscari, hyacinth and crocus! The work you put in now will pay off ten-fold next spring. For my zone (6a) we aim to plant bulbs in October/November.
I will be ordering some specialty Daffodil and Tulip bulbs form Eden Brothers in the coming weeks, I usually get my bulbs from Floret but sadly she is not offering them this year – I love her unique and showy varieties!
Don’t forget to grab your garlic sets as well!
Bulb Sources to Check Out:
Johnny’s Selected Seeds – veggie & flower seeds, garlic sets, cover crop seed, garden supplies
White Flower Farm – everything!
Natchez Glenhouse – curated collections (LOVE these and such a great value!!)
Eden Brothers – bulbs and tubers
Brent & Becky’s Bulbs – bulbs an tubers
Holland Bulbs Farms – bulbs and tubers
4. Digging Bulbs & Tubers
The other part of my bulb plan is to dig my daffodils and tulips from one of my raised beds and move them to the front landscape bed – I want to be able to enjoy them from a different location next year and I’d like to use the raised bed for more veggies (or flowers) instead!
Now is the time to dig spring bulbs but wait until after the first frost to dig your dahlia tubers! Those babies are going to be flowering right up until frost and you don’t want to miss it! Stay tuned for my full guide to growing great dahlias, I’m working on it now and should be publishing it soon!
5. Ordering Winter Cover Crops
Fall is the time to start thinking about winter garden maintenance, for us up here in New York that doesn’t mean a whole lot, mainly getting a cover crop to replenish nutrients in the soil! I will especially be doing a cover crop in all our beds, especially those that had Solonacea family veggies growing this season (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash etc.) as they are known to drain a TON of nutrients from the soil.
Cover crops are an incredible way to inexpensively and with zero effort amend your soil, 1/4lb. of seed (more than enough for most home gardens!) is only around $5 and all you have to do is spread the seed on your beds.
Most cover crops are in the legume family – these plants actually replenish key nutrients, especially nitrogen, in your soil. Pretty amazing if you ask me, once again plants for the win! So just spread some seed and let the plants do the work! You’ll have a head start on healthy soil for next spring’s veggies!
I’ll be using Johnny’s Selected Seeds to order my cover crops from, read more about what they say on winter cover crops HERE.
My Cover Crop Plan: I am going to try crimson clover and rye this year as they are winter hardy in my zone. I am ordering now and will spread the seed in November after full garden clean up is done! The crop will grow through the winter and we will either pull or til the spent organic matter back into the soil during spring prep! YAY for healthy soil!!
6. Transplanting & Pruning Perennials
Fall is a great time to update your landscape beds – get any shrubs, trees and perennials in the ground if you’ve been planning it! In our zone (6a) its best to plant in September or a October to allow for root systems to establish before the ground freezes.
Transplant any shrubs and perennials as well! I was talking to many of you about peonies – now is the time to dig, divide and transplant!
Pruning is another fall task for many landscape plants, especially hydrangeas. I know many of you have hydrangeas so let’s talk about them!
Some hydrangea species bloom on last-year’s growth, which is often called “old wood.” This old wood contains the flower buds that will open with the coming summer. Pruning in winter or spring would remove the flower buds, leaving us with a bloomless plant this year. Therefore, these varieties are pruned after blooming in summer, you can almost consider it deadheading.
Hydrangeas that bloom on new wood produce flower buds on the young growth that emerges in spring. Because the buds are not present during the winter months, these plants can be pruned in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.
So, if your hydrangea blooms on old wood (most fall in this category, like Endless Summer, all Macrophylla are in this species) you can prune/deadhead now, if you prune these guys in early spring, you risk cutting off the dormant flower buds that were set the previous fall.
If your hydrangea blooms on new wood (Hydrangea paniculata, like PeeGee) you can cut them back in the winter/early spring while they are dormant!
Lastly, now is the time to cut back any spent perennial flowers and foliage, this will both help the plant’s roots store nutrients over the winter and will make the landscape look clean and tidy.
7. Mulching Round Two
Putting down more mulch down in both your veggie/flower and landscape beds will be very beneficial to the soil. Mulching helps by adding organic matter to the soil, retaining water and suppressing weed. Always a good idea to and will greatly benefit your plants!
Read more in my post HERE on mulching methods and mediums!
I hope this post was helpful and got you excited to keep gardening through the fall, it’s such an awesome time to be outside! I would LOVE to know your fall garden plans, leave me a comment below!