You can feel it in the air can’t you? The coolness of an approaching autumn. The each passing day is getting noticeably shorter. We’re beginning that transitional period from the hot summer growing season to the fall growing season and that can mean a lot of changes in the garden. The vegetable garden may still be going full speed ahead at the moment but it is time to prepare for the arrival of the fall gardening season.
Here are some gardening tips for you to use to prepare for fall gardening:
- Continue harvesting everything you can from your vegetable garden through the fall. Put away canned vegetables or pack them in the freezer so you can savor them this winter when fresh vegetables are not available. You will think very fondly of your garden in January when you are cooking garden beans on the stove!
- While you are harvesting be sure to save seeds from the most delicious and best growing vegetables you grew. The seed may not produce the same fruit, if it has been open pollinated, but the odds are it will be a pleasing addition to your garden. Tomatoes and pepper flowers are self fertile but insects can cross pollinate between varieties – and do so frequently!
- Leave several of the best looking bean pods on the plant to dry. Once they are dry you can save them for next year!
- Dry those herbs! Dried herbs are never going to be as great as fresh but you can still use your own garden’s herbs for flavoring your meals throughout the winter. An oven put on its lowest temperature will help you dry them faster or you can purchase a Dehydrator (Amazon Link). Drying racks work well too. Just make sure that there is a good airflow around the herbs to help speed the drying process and prevent mold.
- If your plants are getting blight or leaf spot try to remove the damaged leaves without contaminating other plants. Dispose of those branches and leaves somewhere other than your compost bin (a firepit is a great idea!) or if the plant is done producing remove it entirely from the garden. Plan on planting something else in a different vegetable family in that location next year. Those diseases can persist for several years in the soil so plan on a crop rotation strategy.
- If your tomatoes are still going strong consider planting your fall crops underneath them. The summer sun can be a bit strong for plantings of fall vegetables which may enjoy the shade the tomatoes provide. When the tomatoes begin to fade out prune them back to the ground to allow the fall vegetables to receive full sun.
- Add some compost around the base of each plant periodically to refresh your plants. A little compost is never a bad thing in the vegetable garden!
- Start your fall vegetable seeds! You may need to begin your seeds indoors where the temperature is cooler then transplant outside. What fall vegetables are good to grow? Just about anything you can grow in spring! Try Brussels sprouts, beets, spinach, lettuce, kale, chard, and many others. If your climate is mild enough they will continue to grow (albeit slowly) through the winter months. If your climate is too cold you may want to cover with a small hoop house or use cloches.
- Keep on weeding! Those weeds will continue to grow and will do their best to reproduce. Remove them before they go to seed to minimize their impact next year. Ragweed is beginning to flower (here in TN) which will cause allergy problems so try to remove it everywhere you can. (Don’t get it confused with Goldenrod)