Fall garden with pumpkins

Are you ready to toss in the towel on your overgrown, drab-looking container gardens for the year?

Unfortunately, our gorgeous summer containers are now fading due to the stress of the summer heat, possible insects or diseases, and the changing temperatures and sunlight in fall. Don’t give up! Now is the perfect time to give them a fall makeover and create a beautiful display of autumnal colors amongst the pumpkins on your front porch for a couple of months.

Oats, Outi Mähönen, via Unsplash

Do you struggle with weed control in the spring before planting your summer garden? Does your garden lose topsoil after a heavy rain due to slope? Would you like to improve soil structure and add organic matter to your garden?

Backyard cover cropping is for you!

seedling under plastic lid. creative commons.

Who would have known seeds would be the latest craze in 2021? Many seed companies are finding it hard to keep up with the demand and are out of stock or delayed in delivery. If you haven’t ordered your seeds, don’t fret, some are still available and your garden centers will not let you down on offering the average fare.

Seedlings growing in paper eggshell cartons

Believe it or not, it's never too early to start making plans for this year's garden. Knowing when to plant for your area and getting your plants started right will help you maximize the growing season.

When to grow?

Planting dates are determined two things: the first and last frost dates where you grow, and how much time it takes for a crop to mature. Always check the plant tag or seed packet for the recommended date.  

growing crops in bags

Patio containers will grow food and boast hues of silver and white, and I think we may even see gardeners experimenting with growing sweet potato vine towers.

Mint plant on window sill in small container. Image: Eleanor Chen via Unsplash

While winter can give gardeners a nice break from their usual garden maintenance, they undoubtedly miss the ability to harvest and enjoy the fresh garden bounty. Try growing fresh, flavorful herbs indoors this winter to add some green to your home and zest to your recipes!

Many herbs are native to the Mediterranean and require certain conditions for optimal growth and flavor. Those that can be easily grown indoors include chives, basil, sage, parsley, thyme, oregano, mints, and rosemary.

red oak rain garden

A homeowner who is interested in eco-friendly gardening may want to consider incorporating a rain garden into their landscape.

A rain garden is a permeable landscape feature that improves the quality of water runoff while adding beauty and supporting pollinating insects and birds. Typically located near a home’s downspout, but at least 10 feet away from the foundation, they take the form of shallow basins filled with native plants, filtering water and allowing stormwater runoff to soak into the ground.

fox squirrel in foreground of fall or winter tree limbs.

Proactive strategies can lessen the extent of wildlife damage to your gardens through fall and winter.

Once the ground is frozen, rabbits will have fewer places to take shelter or hide, and will forage for food a lot closer to the protection of their winter home. They will go for anything green but once that is gone, they will go for thin-skinned bark and small branches. Feeding damage can be prevented using chicken wire fencing, burying a few inches to thwart digging.

full season french intensive garden

Connie Kostelc has been a Master Gardener volunteer for University of Illinois Extension in Livingston County for the last 22 years. When gardening for edible plants, Connie uses the French intensive raised bed method.

wheatgrass growing in a cup

Fall is the perfect time for little ones to get out in the garden to explore plants at their peak, and even grow their own plant projects in the cooler temperatures. Here are a few ideas to get them outside and appreciating nature.

Cut Grass Hair

Grow your own grass head, then snip or style the “hair” as it grows! The grass will germinate and grow quickly to create a lush, green head.

Materials needed:

Are you ready to take your butterfly gardening to the next level and allow some of your beautiful plants to be eaten by caterpillars?

Choose the right plants, give them some care, and voila — caterpillars. The most grown caterpillar food in our gardens are milkweeds for monarchs and parsley for black swallowtails. By adding a few more native shrubs, perennials and annuals, as well as allowing certain weeds to remain, the caterpillar café could be open in no time.

Shrubs

beet greens and lettuce greens

Free time on your hands? Avoiding social spaces, but need some time outside?

First, remember that just because you're outside, the virus can still spread. If you're working with more than one person:

Lavender photo by Verophoto Art, via Unsplash

Walking through any garden can be calming, educational, inspiring, energizing, or a combination of all of these. A new trend in gardening is creating intentional gardens; gardens with a specific purpose, like a sensory garden.