Welcome to those clicking over from our newsletter! Here are more details on my top 10 ‘to-do’s’ for the Autumn. If you didn’t get this from our newsletter sign up! It’s free and we typically send newsletters about once a month.
With out further ado here is my list of things to do this month in the garden.
- Harvest tomatoes and other vegetables that are warm season plants. As the nights cool the ripening process will slow down and rain will bring on some rot potential in the warm season plants. Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts all are happy to have the cooler weather and will thrive.
- Plant cool season crops, along with leafy salad crops like arugula, spinach, and lettuce. These will germinate in the 60-degree days and you can harvest for a couple of months in my zone 7-8 garden. You can also put in starts of broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts (check your local nursery). Also available now are garlic bulbs for next year’s harvest.
- Remove any dead plants from the summer and think about replanting now for good root growth in the fall and establishment for next year. Some of the plants that did not make it in my garden were planted in the late spring and early summer. A long dry summer was the culprit in their demise. The plants I planted last fall did well.
- Weed any persistent weeds and cover area with mulch. This will keep weeds in check for next year and feed the plants during the winter.
- Prune fruit trees as the growth slows. Learn about pruning different kinds of trees so the pruning you do is effective not harmful. See my blog post on pruning espalier trees.
- Start dividing plants that have overgrown their spots. Iris, persicaria, sedums, and campanula are some that need to be divided in my garden. I will pot them up and give away or sell. This is a great by product of a successful garden.
- Clean out the greenhouse and prepare for winter. If you have a greenhouse this is a good time to get it ready. See my blog post on greenhouse prep. If you don’t have a greenhouse there are several ways to overwinter plants that aren’t hardy. Look for an upcoming post on DIY cold frames and mulch holding beds.
- Write it down. Keep good records of what did well in the vegetable garden and what did not. I have a beautiful tomato called indigo rose in the garden. It is pretty but it will not ripen. I have about 200 tomatoes on the plant and have had about 10 ripe ones. They have been a lovely black color since June. Yes, I’ve pruned it many times. Yes, I’ve eaten them and they are really not ripe. I won’t grow it again.
Two good books to help with this are ‘Week by Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook by Ron Kujawski and Jennifer Kujawski, and Vegetable Gardener’s Journal from Cool Springs Press.
I also record my progress in the main garden in a garden journal. I have several filled journals on the shelf that have a record of gardens from when I first began gardening to the one that is ½ filled now. Sometimes, now, I spend more time on my blog posts than in the journal but the posts do tie to my gardening through the year. Plants I love, weather, plants I killed, where I got them, bulbs and seeds I planted, it all goes in the journal.
- Save seeds. I have saved seeds from various plants for years. It is easy to do and provide next years starts for no money and blank seed packets are available online. There is also lots of information about how to save seeds. A good resource is a free handbook on line at http://howtosaveseeds.com/toc-handbook.php. I also like ‘Seedswap’ by Josie Jeffery. It has a section on how to save seeds but also how to connect with seed banks, starting seeds, and growing on. It is just great reading about seeds in general.
10. Turn compost pile if you have one, and remove any weedy debris piles. I like to save a woody debris pile for insects to overwinter. In the Pacific Northwest, your compost pile should be kept in a fairly dry area. If there is a lot of moisture and leafy vegetation it will be a breeding ground for snails and slugs instead of habitat for small animals and insects.