Whether you live on the drought-ridden west coast, where we are still currently experiencing hot temperatures and wildfires, or if you live somewhere that is already receiving random snowfall, autumn is nearly upon us.
September 23rd marks the first day of autumn this year. Hard to believe that it’s just right around the corner!
What is an Autumnal Equinox anyway? The word “equinox” is Latin for “equal night.” The Spring and Autumn Equinoxes are the only days of the year in which the sun will cross the celestial equator.
Once this occurs in the fall, temperatures begin to get colder, and our days begin to be shorter than our nights.
Of course, if you are a gardener, the change of the seasons means that there are a few things that you need to do to prepare your yard and garden. If you’re not sure where to start, or need a few ideas, look no further!
Basic, but Necessary Yard Maintenance – Another essential fall chore is your basic yard maintenance. This includes tasks such as pulling weeds, trimming dead leaves, stems and branches from your plants.
We also suggest using a metal rake to loosen your ground mulch, to allow better water penetration to your vegetation throughout your yard and garden areas.
Now is also a great time to spread your compost throughout your garden, and around trees and shrubs in your yard.
Some people may believe that this is the time to prune your trees and shrubs, but it’s not a good idea. Any new growth wouldn’t be allowed the appropriate amount of time to harden off prior to the freezing temperatures – and that could lead to damage to your trees and shrubs.
Preparing Your Lawn – Fall is the best time to spread grass seed for cool season grasses. Cool season grasses thrive in areas with freezing cold winters, and very hot summers. Some examples of cool season grasses are ryegrass, fescue (tall or fine), or Kentucky bluegrass.
Sowing grass seeds in the fall will give them an opportunity to germinate and establish a good root system prior to the arrival of freezing temperatures.
Planting a Cool Season Vegetable Garden – Now is also the time to begin planning and preparing for your cool season vegetable garden. There are a few wonderful benefits of gardening in the fall: rainfall is more abundant, so you’ll have to water your garden less, and insects are fewer in the cooler months, so you’ll have to worry less about pest control.
There are plenty of wonderful things that you can plant and grow in the fall: carrots, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, beets, bush beans, chard, peas, radishes, winter squash, and many more.
Caring for Your Container Plants – When preparing their lawn and garden for fall, many people overlook or forget to care for their container plants. There are several things that you can do to prepare your container plants for the fall.
Tropical plants may not fare well in the fall weather in your region, but they do make excellent house plants during the fall and winter months. Bring your citrus plants, Plumeria, Ficus, Palms, and other tropical plants indoors to protect them from the freezing temperatures outdoors.
Perennials can be transplanted from their containers directly into the ground, so long as you trim their roots a bit to stimulate new growth of their feeder roots. Once they are transplanted, most perennial plants will fare well throughout the colder months.
Herb plants have typically passed their prime by summers’ end, so it may be a good idea to bring them indoors. Consider harvesting and drying herbs at this time. Herbs have a higher survival rate indoors with lots of natural or fluorescent light.
Clean up Your Garden Shed – Now is a great time to sort through your garden shed and get things organized. Clean up your gardening tools and return them to where they belong, use a broom to knock down cobwebs, and sweep the floor.
Take inventory of your gardening supplies. Check the sell-by date on any chemicals or amendments – some of them have a date stamped on them, and they may work less effectively if used after that date. Make a list of things you will need to purchase before spring rolls around.
Refill Your Bird Feeders – If you keep a steady supply of bird feed around your property, the birds will keep the insect population down. Fewer insects will mean that you will need less insecticide sprays and powders around your yard and garden. Natural pest control is always the best!
When you are all done, be sure to take some time to sit back, relax, and take in the beauty of fall. The leaves changing color on the trees – watching the leaves falling gracefully from the trees and swirling about in the wind. Sip some hot apple cider while admiring the beauty of your yard and garden – feel proud of all your hard work. And, last but not least, enjoy your tasty fall harvest from your cool season vegetable garden!