As spring and summer come to a close, many backyard and front yard gardens are being taken down for the cold months, but those in the know understand that fall gardening is just as fun and plentiful as spring and summer gardening. And as we enter October, it’s the perfect time to get outside for one last push for fresh veggies and beautiful flowers to adorn the exterior of your house.
The best thing a newly dedicated gardener can do is plant vegetables that can thrive easily in the crisp, cool fall air. Carrots, lettuce, onions, spinach and most forms of peas are the best place to start. These vegetables, coincidentally, are great ingredients for a hearty cold-weather stew. This is also a perfect time to plant vegetables from the Brassica genus, which includes mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, brussel sprouts and kale. When you pick your vegetables, make sure to treat your soil with rich organic materials (a good composting pile will come into great use here) and try to stick to plants that are known to thrive in your region.
And just because the sunlight now comes with a bit of frost doesn’t mean you can’t still spruce up your exterior with some vibrant colors. Fall is a perfect season for container gardens and plotted plants that will give the exterior of your home an essential kick of personality and color. Sedum has bright pink/magenta coloring in its flowers; Verbena has a light peach tint to its pedals and some white and red can come out too. For darker colors, try heuchera (also known as coral bells), which come out with dark blue and purple flowers.
For those who are devoted gardeners but like to take the winter off from planting and tending, the cold months are a good time to lay the foundation for a stellar growing season next spring/summer. Enriching your soil with rich organic materials over the fall/winter seasons will ensure that next season, your garden will be even more plentiful than before. It’s also a good time to fertilize: Fertilizing your lawn will help your grass develop a root system that is more sturdy and healthy. I know what you’re thinking: Grass is dead during the winter! Sure, but the roots are still thriving under the ground and can benefit from some attention and nutrients. Keeping this up during the cold months will help protect your grass during bad weather and droughts.
Planting trees, shrubs and perennial plants is also a beneficial activity. Fall and winter months prepare larger, slower growing plants for the heavy duty growing season and (bonus!) most trees sell for next to nothing at garden stores right before winter, to diminish stock. Then there’re crocuses, tulips and daffodils, which are usually the very sign that winter is coming to its end. The variety of flower bulbs that can be planted in the fall and bloom in spring is nearly endless in terms of type and color. One trick: make sure you wait until the first frost to come before planting bulbs to ensure they have the optimal conditions for growth. Then, by the time you’re ready to get back to optimal gardening conditions, you’ll be ahead of the game.