Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tips for Gardening in the Fall

Feature from Mary Mazzoni

Fall vegetables are some of the year’s tastiest. Photo: Flickr/Salvadonica, Chianti, Tuscany
Gardening may seem like more of a spring and summer hobby, but the mild autumn months are a great time to spend outdoors in your yard. Check out our top tips for reducing waste, saving water and having loads of fun in the garden this fall.

Keep your veggie garden growing
You’ve likely already harvested the bounty of your summer vegetable garden, but that doesn’t mean the growing season has to end. No matter which area of the country you live in, you can find plenty of fruits and veggies that would be happy to call your garden home.

In most chilly regions — such as the Northeast and Midwest — crops like arugula, collard greens and spinach are ideal for September plantings. In warmer areas like the Southeast and Southwest, you can plant more diverse crops, such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale.

Gardeners in most states should have success with members of the cabbage family, as well as root vegetables like beets, carrots and radishes. Brussels sprouts and fennel also do well in the colder months, and fall is the perfect time to plant garlic and shallots for harvest next summer.

While most of these hardy vegetables can withstand a light frost, check with your local nursery to see which varieties work best in your region. Also, find out the average date of your region’s first killing frost, and plan to plant your crops early enough to let them reach full maturity before that date. Seedlings may be an option if it’s too late to plant from seeds.


Leaves are just what your compost pile needs. Add fall leaves to your compost pile
All those fallen leaves make ideal carbon-rich additions to your backyard compost pile and can help you strike the proper balance between green and brown waste.

While you’re at it, set aside time to do some pruning after your bushes, trees and shrubs shed their leaves for the season. You’ll avoid laboring in the yard during the cooler months, and your compost pile will reap the benefits of additional brown waste to counterbalance food scraps you’ll add throughout the winter.

Smaller twigs and trimmings can be tossed on your compost pile as is, but you may want to run larger branches through a wood chipper first to help them decompose faster.

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