Most people are surprised to learn that fall is my busiest season on the flower farm. Flowers are still blooming and need regular cutting. I'm ordering seeds, tubers, and plugs for next season. I am prepping new areas for planting while preparing the garden for its much-needed rest.
The season's finish line is just ahead, but taking a few steps before the temperatures drop will set you up for a spectacular growing season ahead. Here are three of my must-do items for any fall garden.
Amend the Soil
After a season of feeding the plants, your soil will benefit from amending, adding nutrient-rich materials back to the earth. My favorite items to add to the soil are good-quality compost and leaf mulch. You can learn more about leaf mulch here. Amending your soil in the fall gives your soil several months to break down and absorb nutrients. Your garden will thank you for amending the earth with a bountiful harvest next growing season.
2. Dig and Store Tender Tubers
Depending on your growing zone, some of your plants may not survive winter when left outdoors. Be sure you know which of your plants would benefit from indoor winter storage and prioritize digging those up before the temperatures get too cold. My goal is to have all my tubers dug up, labeled, and stored before Thanksgiving. Digging in the ice and snow is no fun!
3. Plant Hardy Annuals and Bulbs
Just like some plants don't tolerate the cold and wetness of winter, others need a period of cool temperatures for optimal growth. Bulbs like tulips and peony roots need a chill to perform at their best. Hardy annuals are a particular group of flowers that we think of as early spring bloomers, and many of them can be planted out in the fall. These include snapdragons, phlox, calendula, dill, Ammi, and others (check your growing zone for specific lists). Just like you want to get your tender tubers out of the ground before it gets too cold, you'll want your hardy annuals and bulbs in before your shovel needs to break through the frozen earth. Just south of Nashville, my goal is to have all the hardy annuals, bulbs, and roots planted before December 1.
Making sure you set your garden up for success in the fall will supply you with better, more bountiful blooms come springtime. I hope this was helpful and wish you a happy end to the season.