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The weather may be cooling down, but that doesn’t mean that fall brings an end to gardening! Fall is the perfect season to clean up those garden beds, manage soils, and plant your spring-blooming bulbs. A little tender loving care, and your fall garden prep can help to ensure a bountiful garden by the time spring rolls around. 

New Plants

Fall is the time to put spring bulbs in the ground and plant some cool season plants to brighten up the garden. Chrysanthemums, asters, and pansies are all great seasonal choices. Other things to plant during this time are shrubs and trees. Giving them a dormant period will help to minimize transplant shock. If you’re a vegetable gardener, you can grow up to the first freeze or even later if your area is in a mild climate. You can prolong your harvest by making use of row covers, mulch, and cold frames. Fall veggies include cabbage, broccoli, most of the Brassicas, and root crops. Remember to cover your crops if you’re anticipating any snow or an extended freeze. 

Clean Up Old Growth

The season’s end signals a time to remove your spent vegetables, clean up weeds, and prepare your lawn furniture and water features for the winter. Make use of your fall leaves by raking them onto the lawn and mowing them over with a grass catcher. They make for a cheap (free!) fertilizer and the resulting mix of nitrogen and carbon makes a great cover for the vegetable garden, simultaneously preventing weeds while enhancing fertility.

Tend That Garden Bed

Consider adding compost to your soil before planting annuals, edibles, and the majority of ornamentals. If you’re planting trees and native plants, this step isn’t necessary. Dig up your existing soil to about ten inches and spread the compost over the area, then rake until smooth. Empty your compost bins and start a new batch. Your compost will take a little longer as the weather cools, but leaf debris can add a lot of beneficial carbon to the mixture. Plus, starting now gives you a head start for the next planting season. If you don’t have your own compost pile at home, store-bought is fine; you can find it at your local nursery and garden supplier. Dig up sensitive bulbs or tubers or bring them inside if you live in areas with an extended freeze.