by Maria Cannon
Fall is a godsend for most gardeners. The killing heat of summer has died down, and you can really enjoy being outside. Yard work and gardening have their seasons, and fall is the season for shutting some things down and prepping other things for spring growth.
Fall is a great time to grow food and flowers. You just have to know what crops to put in this time of year.
If you like salads, know that arugula, mustard greens, and spinach are good fall crops that grow almost everywhere. Carrots, parsnips, and radishes also have a wide range. Many root veggies can survive a light frost, and beets will survive an out-and-out freeze. That’s why borscht is such a popular soup in the frozen areas of Russia!
To protect your more fragile fall garden foods, place a lightweight fabric over them if you suspect an upcoming frost. It may be worth investing in a cover from a garden supply store. Some fabrics, designed for this specific purpose, are guaranteed to allow seventy percent of the sunlight through the fabric and they can be repurposed in the spring and summer to ward off crop-chomping insects. That saves you the cost of pesticides, and you won’t kill the butterflies.
If you’re more into flowers than food, consider planting a beautyberry. It produces beautiful purple flowers that turn into purple berries. Your beautyberry will attract birds to your yard, including the lovely black-throated blue warbler.
Other good flowering shrubs to plant in fall are goldenrod and the American holly which are native to the United States and have the added benefit of being low maintenance. The sorely under-estimated sumac is also a great bonus to your garden. It can be counted on for long-lasting gorgeous red and yellow leaves.
According to Popular Mechanics, you should keep trimming your grass through the season. Toward the end of fall, however, you need to raise the mower blades and let the remaining grass sit a little taller. That will help prevent grass from turning brown when the really cold months are here.
This Old House experts says you should not neglect to fertilize your grass right now, because grass roots will keep burrowing into the ground until temperatures turn nearly freezing. If you want your grass to come back early in the spring, fertilize now!
Writers at Better Homes and Gardens note that this is also good time to reseed those patches of your lawn where the grass has thinned or gone altogether bald.
Yard “waste” is gold
We call fallen leaves and dead plants “yard waste,” but it’s actually valuable compost. If you take even a little trouble to compost it, your yard trash will turn into rich, naturally fertile soil over the winter and early spring.
And it’s actually easier to rake your debris into a corner of your yard, creating an informal compost tower, than to bag it and take it to the curb! Scientists tell us that the fertilizer you create this way is much better for your garden because it doesn’t introduce foreign microorganisms the way commercial fertilizer purchased from the store will do. And, of course, it’s cheaper.
NOTE: There are lots of organic ways to take care of your lawn! Check out this article from Rodale’s to find out more about organic lawn care options.
If raking leaves against the side of the fence is just too easy, you can also use them to kill weeds organically. Pile the yard waste over the weedy area and then cover with black plastic. You’ve now created a natural oven that will kill weeds and create rich soil.
Fall gardening and yard work can be a joy. Enjoy that refreshing breeze, the brilliant colors, and don’t forget to let the kids play in the leaf piles before you compost them.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
About The Author
Maria lives in Dallas, Texas. Her hobbies–gardening, quilting, sewing, and knitting–play a major role in maintaining her mental health.