Fall is the time to get your garden cleaned up and ready for the upcoming winter. Now is the time to start readying the garden for cooler weather. As the summer winds down and the cooler temperatures set in, consider whether or not you will plant a fall garden or if it is time to let the garden go to “sleep” for the winter. Where you live plays a large part in what you decide to do.
Tomatoes and Peppers
If you live in USDA hardiness zone 6 or lower, tomatoes and peppers should be root pruned to slow production. Root prune by taking a sharp spade and push it into the ground about 8 to 10 inches from the plant. Do this on three sides of the plant. Root pruning will allow the plant to maintain the fruit that is currently set. It will prevent further fruit from setting.
If you live in a warmer climate, tomatoes and peppers can survive as long as the nighttime temps do not fall below 45 to 50 degrees. Get cold frames, cloches or hoop frames ready. This will extend the production well into winter.
Pumpkins and other winter squash should be in full production right now. Once squash production is finished, remove the vines. Burn or destroy any vines that show signs of insect damage or disease. Healthy vines can go into the compost pile.
General Clean Up
Remove all spent plants from the garden. Start a new compost pile, come spring the compost will be ready to use. Remove spent flowers from decorative plants. Do a final weeding.
Once fruit trees have stopped producing, remove and damaged or diseased limbs and spray with dormant oil once the leaves drop. Rake up and compost all leaf litter.
Replace any rotting wood used in raised beds, fencing or gates. Paint or stain exposed wood surfaces if necessary.
Prepare the Beds
In colder climates, as the garden beds start to empty, turn over the soil. Add a thick layer of compost to the soil and cover the beds with black plastic. Another option is to plant annual rye as a cover crop. Till this into the soil in the spring.
Cold frames can be added to raised beds to extend the harvest into the late fall or early winter.
Preparing the garden for fall and winter is not only good for the plants, it keeps the garden looking neat. Well maintained gardens have fewer pests and disease. Start making your fall clean up plants now.
Other Articles You May Enjoy:
Planting a Fall Vegetable Garden
Preserving Your Garden Harvest
A Guide to Garden Torches
A Guide to Organic Gardening in Northwest Arkansas
Controlling Insects in Your Garden