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Down the Garden Path

Early Fall Gardening Tasks

All the rain and cooler weather has really started a change in the home landscape and vegetable garden.The fall and cooler season vegetables really like this weather and have been growing well. Those warm season vegetables like tomatoes and peppers begin to shut down as night time temperatures slow them down even with more normal daytime temperatures. If the idea is to go ahead and let Mother Nature finish off the garden, be sure to harvest any vegetables that are mature as those have a chance of ripening inside the home. At some point the cold weather will end the growing season for cold season vegetables.

One way to get the most out of the garden is to use season extenders. These can be as simple as covering up the plants when the weatherman is predicting a frost or more extensive by using row covers. Root crops can be harvested into December and January by mulching the rows before the ground freezes. Once the season is over for your garden, clean up the debris and recycles into the compost bin. Any disease plant parts should go to the landscape waste bag. There has been a lot of tomato foliage disease this summer, so that is a good candidate for the landscape waste.

The landscape is also changing. Leaves have lost their shine, fall color has begun. Plants have begun to move food reserves into branches, twigs, and roots. You see this in perennials as foliage discolors and dries down. Cooler night temperatures are what trigger this change in plants. Day length also plays a role as there is less daylight to produce food reserves. If there have been lots of foliage disease problems, raking up the leaves will lessen the source of disease for next year.

One part of the landscape that has really responded to all this change in weather and water is the lawn. Our cool season grasses grow rapidly in the spring and fall. Gardeners have begun to mow more often as a result. Another part of the lawn that is growing is the weeds that have been there or those that sprouted from seed this spring. If a control treatment is used, then the rapidly growing grasses will easily fill in and thicken as the weeds die. This is also a good time to do any kind of renovation such as core aeration, reseeding or over seeding. About another week and it will be too late for any seeding activity.