5 Gardening and Landscaping things to do right now!
October and November are the perfect time to do some work around your homestead in landscaping and garden areas. Some of you Urban Homesteaders and a few us others have some lawn we need to tune up and it is tree and shrub planting time too. There is flower and vegetable garden work to be done and leaves help with the organic gardening as well.
Leaves and Organic Gardening
Leaves are our perfect friends to act as mulch layer over the Winter. The are a great addition to our growing beds to help the soil by breaking down rather quickly and adding back that organic mix we need so badly. One easy way to do this if you have and open area or just use your lawn is dump them out and mow over them a few times. I even collect some from the neighbors. You may be surprised how happy folks nearby are to drop off their leaves rather than paying for them to be hauled away.
Once the leaves have been dumped and mowed over and mulched up, you can simply rake the small pieces into your beds. Again they will add nutrients and help in the Spring while acting as a good over Winter protective layer.
Lawn Care in the Fall
Now that your lawn has been raked up or that open area might need a bit of greening up, it is time to reseed or overseed your lawn to fill in the sparse areas. If you have time, or if you have been planning a head, you might have had a soil test done at your local county extension office. If so try and get your soil pH to between 6.0 and 6.5 for most grasses. The report may also tell you if there are other nutrients you are lacking.
In some warmer climates you might still have time to get a report done, but it usually takes a few weeks to get a response. No matter add the seeds now and you can add the other nutrients later when you get the report. Be sure to to keep the seeds moistened and this may mean light watering several times a day depending on wind, sun and even coolness. Once the seed have germinated then normal good watering is fine.
Planting Trees and Shrubs in the Fall
The trees and shrubs you plant now will have months to develop healthy root systems, since they are not using their growing energy for blooms and buds. Cool weather means no heat stress either! The soil is still warm from the Summer and the foliage has stopped growing, all of which means rooting will happen easily. Be sure you break up the soil outward from the new plant to ease the root growth and do not plant the shrub or tree to deep. Plant to a depth recommended or just look for the root crown and make sure that is just below ground level.
Again, like the lawn seed, keep your new trees and shrubs watered. Cool weather dries out soil quickly as does the wind. After an initial heavy soaking, you can make sure to water each week if you lack rain. Using some of those left over mulched up leaves will help keep the area moist and protect too. Just do not pile the mulch up the trunk or stem of your new shrub or tree.
Fall Vegetable Garden Maintenance
For your summer garden beds, it is time to get rid of the plants. There are many diseases and pests that can survive the Winter and we do not need to bring them back next Spring… trust me there will be more own their own! So clean up the Summer Beds and compost the plant material. If you have chickens and pests, give the chickens a treat and put the pest filled scraps in their coop or in an area they range that needs nutrients. Now if you had diseased plants, get them off your property, otherwise add them to the compost pile.
Hopefully you have a Fall Vegetable Garden and are enjoying the cool season crops. A lot of them can handle much cooler temperatures than you think, and most are tastier after a light frost or two! You really need to try this so you do not miss out on a great treat. Floating row covers can add a few degrees of heat and keep in moisture if your seedlings are a bit late. Here is our 10 vegetables and herbs to plant in the fall article that we know you will love!
Flower Gardening in the Fall
Time to divide your bulbs and replant or store them in a cool dry place for the Winter. If you are an Urban Homesteader, you can use the refrigerator. October is the perfect time to be doing this and as you move south you can plant bulbs all through November. One great tip for bulbs is to use this mini-bulb auger (see below) that fits into any power drill and makes perfect holes up to 9 inches deep. It works well for making holes near roots, for deep watering trees too! Plan for Spring color now and do not forget the perennial seeds either. Our entry on Perfect Perennial Planting in the Fall has more details and great suggestions. Another tip is that it is easier to see where fall plants are now so Spring plants can be placed more easily. Of course the best reward is you get color in the Spring with no work!
So get to work and enjoy the cooler weather as you check these 5 Fall Homesteading items off of your To Do List. Your work now will have tremendous reward next Spring! And enjoy eating those wonderful Fall Veggies too!