by gardenerstars

The Fall Cleanup Checklist

Fall garden cleanup is a multifaceted process that involves various essential steps, each designed to protect your plants, soil, and tools, and to ensure a successful and bountiful garden in the seasons to come. Here's a detailed breakdown of the key tasks you should tackle to prep your garden for winter:

1. Remove Spent Plants and Debris: Begin by removing any dead or diseased plants. These should never go into your compost, as they can harbor diseases and pests. Cut back perennial plants to their base unless they are a source of food or shelter for wildlife.

2. Compost and Mulch: Create a compost pile with the plant material you've removed, breaking it into smaller pieces to speed up decomposition. Compost is a valuable resource for enriching your soil. Also, use fallen leaves as mulch, either for your perennial and shrub beds or by leaving some piles in out-of-the-way areas to provide shelter for pollinators and wildlife.

3. Weeding: Finish weeding your garden one last time to prevent weeds from maturing and producing seeds that will return next year. Water the soil if it's dry to make weeding easier.

4. Plan New Garden Beds: Create new planting beds by mowing the area, covering it with newspapers and cardboard, adding compost, and topping it with chopped leaves. This will create a ready-to-plant bed for spring.

5. Protect Fruit Trees: Mow around fruit trees to discourage rodents from nesting there. Install rodent guards around the base of your fruit trees to protect them from gnawing pests.

6. Feed and Improve Soil: Replenish your garden soil with compost, organic matter, worm castings, or other appropriate amendments. This will ensure the microorganisms have time to break down the material before spring planting

7. Crop Rotation: Take note of what you've grown in each bed to plan for proper crop rotation in the coming year. Growing the same family of plants in the same place year after year depletes the soil and promotes pests and diseases.

8. Soil Testing: Have your soil tested to identify nutrient deficiencies or pH imbalances. This will help you apply the right amendments for healthy plant growth.

9. Plant Garlic: October and November are ideal for planting garlic as they require a cold period for propper growth. See our full garlic planting instructions page for a step by step garlic planting guide.

10. Maintain Garden Supports: Remove and clean all plant supports such as tomato cages and trellises. Store them indoors after spraying with a solution of water and bleach to kill disease.

11. Clean and Maintain Tools and Equipment: Prepare your garden tools for winter by cleaning, sharpening, and oiling them. Drain hoses and irrigation lines to prevent freezing damage. Store ceramic and clay pots indoors to avoid cracking. Remove gas from lawn mowers and string trimmers.

By following these steps, you'll ensure your garden is well-prepared for the winter season, setting the stage for a successful spring growing season. With the right care and attention now, your garden will thrive and provide you with beautiful blooms and bountiful harvests in the seasons to come.