Gardeners are some of the most efficient people I have ever met, they are always looking for simpler ways to accomplish their tasks, keeping detailed notes from year to year with things that went well and things that they will never do again. Because I am always compiling information to make my life easier, I want to provide a list of simple things that can be used for your fall garden.
The fall garden is a sweet and sad time in which many of the fruits of our labor are harvested during this season, but I always feel a little sadness that the season is ending and I will not have the pleasure of gardening until the next spring season. I do not till any garden space, keeping the carbon locked into the soil is one of my goals, so when I cut down spent plants at the end of the season I leave the roots in the ground to decompose naturally. My thought is each root opening will allow water and nutrients down into the soil to help break up the clay soil that we have in the Northwest Ohio area. Daikon radishes can also be planted to assist with this task.
Hopefully the list below will help other gardeners and if you have tips of your own to share, send them to my email listed below and I will be happy to share them with our readers.
1. To save geraniums through winter, dig out the plants before a frost, shaking off the soil. Place them in a brown paper sack and leave them for a couple of days, then place inside a second brown paper bag, storing them in a dry cellar with temperatures in the 40’s. In the spring, remove the plants from the paper bags, clean off any leaves remaining, then pot the plants and water them well. Prune the plants as desired, this method has allowed geraniums to be used for decades.
2. When a frost is coming and you still have tomatoes on the vine, pull up the plants hanging them upside down from the rafters. They will continue to ripen for a time providing you with additional harvest.
3. Take photos of your garden in mid-summer, in the fall or winter when you have time to update your garden notebook, you’ll have the photos to remind you of what went well and what you want to do for the coming year. Make notes next to the pictures as a quick reminder and for others to see if you share your notebook with others.
4. Leaves are one of the gardener’s best friends; most municipalities will allow you to collect bags for free. They can be left on top of the ground as a thermal blanket to insulate plants, they can be raked into the ground to hasten decomposition for the coming year and when planting in the spring, you can rake any remaining leaves left on the garden around young starts or tender perennials to help protect them as they get established.
5. When growing sunflowers, cover a few of the seed heads with panty hose in the fall to capture the seeds. This can be used to feed the birds that stay for the winter.
6. When putting tools and tomato cages away for the year, I disinfect them with a diluted bleach solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. This also works for cleaning pots after removing diseased plants.
7. Use discarded Christmas tree branches to bulbs, perennials or shrubs from harsh winter exposure,
8. Talk to your local coffee shop, they are normally happy to provide coffee grounds which can be placed on your gardens. Take a covered pail that they can place the ground into, making it easy for them to provide the coffee grounds with the minimum effort on their part. Then pick up the pail promptly when filled, remember they are running a business and assisting you, not the other way around.
9. Mow over leaves with a mulching mower capturing the leaves in the bag attachment; transfer the leaves to a large garbage bag adding an organic fertilizer to the bag before closing the bag for the winter. When you open the bag in the spring, you will have rich compost that can be spread on the garden.
10. To harvest seed heads for the coming year, place a paper bag over the seed head to capture the seeds as they fall. Many seed heads can be cut and placed into a paper bag to capture the seeds also.
11. Landscaping fabric can be placed over the garden during the winter, the fabric allows water and air to get through, while the dark color of the fabric also increases the heat absorbed by the ground. By blocking the light, this will keep weeds at bay so you will be ready to plant as soon as the fabric is rolled up in the spring.
Many gardeners have shared their garden tips and I thank each and every one that has shared a tip with me. Remember, “All the world’s problems can be solved in a garden”, – Geoff Lawton, Permaculture Designer