It’s not just trees that show fall color (although they are doing so remarkably early this year because of the very cool weather we’ve been enjoying). Many native perennials turn lovely colors in fall, like these sundrops in a bed on my front lawn. And notice the almost-ripe seed cluster of nodding pink onion (Allium cernuum) right behind the Rudbeckia flower at top left. It’s time to harvest seeds:
– last call to plant your fall vegetable garden: cool-weather crops such as lettuce, arugula, peas, and mustards (brassicas).
– keep the grass long (3″ or more) to reduce mowing times. Mow with a mulching mower and leave the clippings on the lawn, where they will serve as natural fertilizer. There is no need to water unless you are also reseeding (see below).
– fall is the time to renew your lawn. If you fertilize your lawn (although this is not something I recommend), this is a good time to do it, using a slow-release organic product. If patches need reseeding, buy seed, sow it, and keep the newly sown patches damp. The weather is perfect. If you have places where grass won’t grow, consider planting something else there next spring!
– as perennials finish blooming, leave the dead flowers on the plants. Collect seeds as they ripen; let most remain to feed the birds next winter. For most perennials, I will not remove any growth until early next spring.
– think about next year’s perennial garden: what needs to be cut back, moved, divided, replanted?
– harvest squash and beans before they get large and tough. Allow winter squash to ripen after harvesting. Pull up and discard (do not compost) warm-weather plants such as cucumbers, squash, and beans that are attacked by insects or disease.
– Because of the cool weather, tomato plants are pretty much done for the season. Consider harvesting the green tomatoes and pulling out the plants sooner rather than later to prevent the spread of the fungal diseases tomato plants are subject to
–Expect pest populations to decline naturally as the weather cools down.
– Take advantage of the relatively cool weather to do garden chores: carry out remedial or cosmetic pruning as needed, now that the ground is nice and wet, do some weeding.
We rarely get a spell of such beautiful early fall weather as we’ve had this week. The sun is warm, but the shadows are cool; we need a jacket to sit outdoors in late afternoon. Enjoy!