What to Do in the Fall Vegetable Garden
By Megan Cain | Photos By Jim Klousia 1
With the fall season arrives many pleasant days to work out in the garden. The days are cool, the sun isn’t as strong, and life tends to slow down a bit, leaving more time for garden tasks. This fall, spend some of those amazing days working on projects in your garden. You’ll get some exercise, breathe the fresh air, and as a bonus, ensure that you’ll have a lot less work to do in the spring!
Plant Garlic. Garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow in the garden. It’s planted in mid- to late October in most areas and is harvested in July. The best place to buy seed garlic is from your local farmers market to guarantee you’re getting a variety that grows well in your area.
Store Cold Hardy Crops in the Garden. Some vegetables like Brussels sprouts and kale turn sweeter after frosty nights. There’s no reason to harvest the entirety of these crops before a frost. Instead of harvesting everything and putting it in the fridge and freezer, leave some of your cold hardy crops in the ground. Kale, leeks, beets, carrots, spinach, and Brussels sprouts survive in my garden unprotected until at least Thanksgiving. There’s nothing like harvesting a spinach salad from your garden for a holiday dinner.
Clean out plant debris. Cleaning out the garden in fall can give you a big leg up on the spring season. Plant material left in your garden will be mushy and unpleasant to work with in the spring. If you’ve had disease or pest issues it’s important to clean out all plant debris. I rip out all plants and either put them in my compost, take them to the yard waste site, or dispose of them in the trash if they are diseased.
Clean out compost bins. At my house our compost bins freeze solid over the winter and often fill up because the food in there isn’t breaking down. We have the standard issue black plastic bins so I simply lift the whole bin off the pile and sift through the contents with a shovel and garden fork. I take all of the composted and partially composted material in my bins, put it in a wheelbarrow, and spread it on my cleaned out garden beds. Any material that’s fresh goes back into the bin for further composting.
Mulch all garden beds. After cleaning out your garden beds, don’t leave the soil exposed to winter desiccation and erosion. Mulch all vegetable garden beds thickly with hay, straw or leaf mulch. Spring weeds start growing early - a thick layer of mulch will keep your garden neat and tidy until planting time.
Have questions about fall tasks or one you’d like to add to the list? Leave a comment below!