"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
Fall Chores in the Garden
Mother Nature creates a beautiful kaelidoscope of colors in Autumn. A garden can be a brilliant display in fall if planned properly. Ornamental grasses, red maples, and sasanqua camellias are just a few of the plants that can extend the show and make the gardener want to spend their spare time outdoors during the cool, crisp days of Autumn. When there's an Indian Summer, there is no better time of year to be out in the garden. Gardening in Autumn is entirely dependant on the weather but there are plenty of garden tasks to keep you busy in October and November.
Take a soil sample to the county extension office for testing and add amendments as needed. Fall is the best time to add lime since it takes a few months to raise the pH.
Sow fescue seed over bare patches in the fescue lawn in October and November. First add a little compost or organic matter to the bare areas and lightly scratch it in with a steel rake. This will help the fescue root in better. Spread wheat straw over the seed to keep the birds from eating it and to prevent the seed from washing away. Don’t mow over seeded areas for at least 2-3 weeks after the seeds have sprouted.
Turn your compost pile. If you don’t have one, now is a great time to use your garden debris and leaves to start a compost pile.
November and December are a great time for planting trees and shrubs. Be sure to keep them well watered until they become established.
Make sure all houseplants are brought back inside after checking them for insects and repotting if they’re pot-bound.
Plant cool season annuals like violas, pansies, and snapdragons.
Do you like garlic? Try growing your own, it’s one of the easiest plants to grow. Plant bulbs during October to harvest next year. Plant the individual cloves within the bulb. Plant the largest cloves you have, to get the largest bulbs. Plant each garlic clove two to three inches below the soil surface and about 6 inches apart. Plant it pointed end up. Your garlic will still grow planted pointed side down, but the shoot will have to curve around and you will wind up with a malformed bulb.
Harvest and dry or freeze herbs for winter use. A simple method is to put one chopped tablespoon of your favorite herb in each section of an ice tray. Fill with water and once frozen, place herb cubes in a Ziploc bag and label. When you need to flavor spaghetti, soups, or stews, just drop a few cubes in the pot.
Remove green tomatoes from the plants. Either ripen them in a brown paper bag or lift the entire plant and hang upside down in a warm spot, to ripen.
Harvest winter squash once the vines die back, but definitely before a hard freeze.
Save those seeds! Always choose the best quality plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables from which to save seeds. Look for disease resistance, vigor, great flavor and productivity. Next year's plants will only be as good as this year's seed. Harvest seeds either when the seed pods have dried on the plant (flowers, beans, etc.) or when the vegetable is fully ripe (tomatoes, squash, peppers, etc.) The vegetables will be well past their edible stage when the seeds are ready. For most vegetables you can simply scoop out and dry the seeds. Once the seeds are dry, store them in a Ziploc bag in a cool, dry place. Write the date and variety name on the bag.