Fall Gardening Tips to Prepare for Next Year

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Last Updated on September 7, 2020 by Ellen Christian

Fall gardening tips will help you prepare your garden for cooler weather and a new crop next year. Learn what you need to do today.

Autumn is almost here in Vermont, so I’m sharing these tips to inspire you to get outside and work in the yard. Make sure that you check out these tips for cleaning up your garden.

And, if you live in a more temperate area than Vermont, you may want to consider planting a fall garden for cool weather crops. It’s a great time to plant another batch of lettuce and spinach.

Fall gardening tips will help you prepare your garden for cooler weather and a new crop next year. Learn what you need to do today.

Simple Fall Gardening Tips

With the leaves starting to turn from green to fiery red and vibrant orange, and crisp air on its way, the time has come to prepare your garden for the autumn, and I hope these simple gardening tips will get you started.

In Vermont (zone 4), fall is the time for me to clean out my garden. We have a relatively short fall season followed by a harsh winter. So, I don’t generally have the opportunity to plant another batch of crops.

But, if you use a cold frame, you may be able to grow lettuce or spinach before the temperatures drop too much. Arugula and other types of greens grow well in colder weather.

raking leaves in the garden

What should I do to my garden in the fall?

Should I put compost in my garden in the fall? 

Compost any weeds, vegetables that have stopped fruiting, and decaying leaves that have accumulated in your planting beds. Take care not to put weeds that have turned to seed into your compost, or weeds will sprout!

If you are growing heirloom plants, consider saving the seeds from these plants in a cool, dry place for next season. These fall gardening tips will help you get ready for spring.

pots with pansies in them on an old garden bench

Add fall flowers

Fall is the perfect time to add cold-weather flowers to your garden. You might want to plant pansies or a few pots of Johnny-jump-ups just for color.

Apply fertilizer 

Apply fertilizer when planting or to mature landscapes to increase water absorption into roots and to enhance root growth. It may be applied monthly throughout the growing season, particularly in hot, dry months to alleviate water stress in trees and landscape plants.

In northern regions, also apply in the fall before the onset of winter. This helps nourish the soil until you are ready to plant again.

a crop of lettuce growing in the dirt

Add more mulch

Add mulch to the sprouts of cool-season vegetables to provide moisture. Lettuce, for instance, loves moisture, without it, it can be bitter.

This is one of my favorite time-saving fall gardening tips. You won’t believe how much time it saves you when it comes to weeding.

Learn more about mulching tips in this article about mulching.

Check Soil pH

Check your soil pH to ensure the success of your crops. Most vegetables like a slightly acidic soil pH. The ideal range is between 6.3 and 6.9 (on a scale from 1 to 14). You will need a soil testing kit.

If your soil has a pH below this range, add lime to your soil this fall. If the soil is too alkaline (above 7.5), you could add elemental sulfur to your beds to lower the pH.

Fall gardening tips will help you prepare your garden for cooler weather and a new crop next year. Learn what you need to do today.

Consider Location

When fall arrives, shorter days mean fewer hours of sunlight for veggies. For new veggies, choose a location within your existing garden that isn’t mixed with still-maturing vegetables. Then the new plants won’t be fighting against the established plants for water and nutrients.

Amend Your Soil

Gently sift the bedding soil and rake in a soil amendment, such as a composted organic material with ARBORChar™ All Purpose Grow, to give cool-season plants the nutrients they need to flourish and prep your soil for spring plantings.

If planting new vegetables, be sure to check the Old Farmer’s Almanac for the first frost dates in your region. They also have lots of helpful fall gardening tips.

a watering can near a garden fork in a flower bed

Stopping weeds from growing next year

Apply one to two inches of compost or manure on top of your beds to help infiltrate the soil with nutrients for the next season. You can also add an additional layer of a lighter organic material (like straw) on top to prevent nutrients from escaping and reduce early spring weeds.

This is one of the most important fall gardening tips if you want to save time on weed control.

When should I plant fall vegetables?

If your schedule allows, plant cool-season crops every two weeks. This allows you to harvest continually, at least when the temperature stays moderate. Look for a fall garden planting schedule for your area.

Related Reading

There is still so much that needs to be done in the fall. So, if you’re looking for a few more articles with gardening tips, here you are.

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2 thoughts on “Fall Gardening Tips to Prepare for Next Year”

  1. The hubby is in the process of shutting down our garden for the year. Or most of it. He does overwinter the garlic and he is trying something new with spinach this year.
    Reply

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