Even though I know it's good for the garden, I have been known to drag my feet getting fall gardening chores done. Who in their right mind would be happy to be putting the garden to bed?
The following are my must-do's for fall, in no particular order:
1. Plant spring bulbs: daffodils are best. They come in a wide variety, including ones that bloom early through late spring so you can have constant blooms all spring. It also gives pollinators like honeybees a constant source of pollen. Daffodils also have a toxin that keeps wildlife from eating them. Other delicious spring bulbs include tulips and crocus. If they don't come up after you plant them, don't blame moles. Mice use mole runs to find food like edible bulbs.
2. If you don't have plants you want to winter over inside, consider at least bringing in herbs. Once settled in a sunny window, most herbs will nicely make it through winter including basil, chives, catnip and parsley. A number of friends grow rosemary as an outside perennial. I haven't tried that yet but I will since I haven't been successful pulling rosemary through winter inside.
3. After making notes about what grew where, remove spent plants and weeds. Leave some seed heads for winter bird food.
4. Go ahead and run over your leaves with the mower so you will have a nice mulch pile to cover plants after the first frost. Mulch keeps roots cold so they don't go through the heaving and thawing of changing temperatures.
5. If you have manure, this is a good time to add it so that it will break down over winter and feed soil micronutrients.
6. Empty composters into gardens and flower beds, leaving a good bucket-full to get started on your next batch. It may take all winter to get another composting load finished but this way you have room to get an early spring start.
7. Compost fallen fruit around trees. Don't have a composter? This is a good time to start, you may find some on sale since it's the end of the gardening season. You can also easily make one. Check with your local extension office for plans.
8. If any of your plants had diseases, dig a hole away from the garden area and bury them. Don't toss them into your compost pile. Don't put in the garbage. In some communities, it is illegal to include greens in trash. What you don't want is to toss plants into your garden and give the disease a chance to find a place to hibernate until next year. Make a note what plant developed the disease so you don't use the same plant in the same area next year.
9. If you are planning on making new garden beds or expanding current ones, do it now. If you're starting a new garden area, cover with newspapers and cardboard to kill grass before spring planting.
Page 2 of 2 - 10. When storing gardening implements, wash and repair before storing. Then they will be ready to use when we have our first spring-like weather.
11. If you have any delicate pots, such as terra cotta or ceramic, and even some plastic pots - bring them inside or store in a warmer spot so they don't break.
12. Finally, don't forget to order seed catalogs. They tend to arrive early January. Think of this as more of a sanity step. Once seed catalogs start coming in, can spring be far behind?
Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a certified gardener sharing gardening tips in a changing climate. Copyright 2013 used with permission by Rolla Daily News - Waynesville Daily Guide. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org.