Gardening – The ABC’s of Fall Gardening

A is for Assessing and Analyzing

  • What worked well this year? Was there a type of plant or vegetable that grew well, were there disappointments? We had a very dry year, some things survived the drought. In comparison, last year we had too much rain. Making notes of the strengths and weakness of your gardening efforts and then reviewing them in the Spring will help make your garden successful and enjoyable. Consider making a photo record too, digital pictures are easy to take and transfer to your computer, along with notes, and resources.
  • Have you had a soil test recently? Whether you are planting perennials, annuals, bulbs, or lawns, the nutrients are depleted over time. Fall is the perfect time to have the soil tested and amended so it will produce the best results for you. Soil test Kits are available for $9.00 at the Penn State Extension office.

B is for Bulbs and Birds

  • “Bulbs” is an inclusive term describing a variety of fleshy underground matter that includes true bulbs like tulips, corms such as crocus, and rhizomes for example: lily of the valley and bearded iris. Spring flowering bulbs need full sun, well drained soil, but only minimal care. These bulbs, once they start to show, serve as reminders that better and nicer days are ahead. Years of selection and breeding have provided spectacular color and disease resistant varieties.
  • There are approximately thirty-five species of birds that can be seen in your yard in the winter time. Think about a family project of attracting birds and caring for them during the harsh months of the year. With the right feed and feeders, birds will provide entertainment, action and color. Bird watching, indentifying, and journaling them are good ways to pass the dreary days of winter. So take some time in the fall to select a good feeder, provide shelter and water for them.

C is for Cleaning and Composting

  • As the growing season slows down, less time is required to maintain the home landscape. Now is a good time to clean up while the weather is still nice. Take some time to edge around your plantings, remove any weeds and take out any insect eggs, nests, and debris. Taking them out now will prevent hundreds of seeds germinating in the Spring. Trim back any damaged limbs and branches. Sanitize and oil all your garden tools to prevent disease and corrosion. While you should continue to mow your grass, remember your mower should also be prepared properly for the winter. Change the oil and filter; check the plug, and lastly, drain the fuel. Doing all of this will extend the life of the mower and improve its performance.
  • Your way of recycling naturally: start a compost pile with grass clippings and spent plants as you clean up your vegetable garden. You can also add the used potting soil from your container plantings. With the onslaught of falling leaves, they can be shredded with your mower and added to the compost pile too.
  • By Steve Ward
    Master Gardener Coordinator
    Penn State Cooperative Extension in Lackawanna County
  • “Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce.”
  • Used with permission

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