Fall is here, but that doesn’t mean that your green thumb needs to hibernate for the winter. Fall is the perfect time for planting garlic and certain tasty vegetables, as well as perennial flower bulbs that will greet you with beautiful blooms come spring. Read more for 8 ways you can enjoy your garden this autumn!
1: Create a Container Garden
Container gardens are like movable works of art that allow you to arrange plants in beautiful combinations and keep them up close on your porch or patio, where you can really enjoy their colors while relaxing on nice cool fall afternoons. And when the colder weather gets here, you can protect your plants by moving them to the garage or basement for storage. Colorful mums are perfect for your autumn container garden, where their fall jewel tones will really pop. Click here for some fall-themed container garden ideas.
2: Grow Garlic and Spice up your Dinner Table
Did you know that there are over 600 types of garlic, and most grocery store only sell two? Heirloom garlic cultivars have a huge range of flavor, from hot and spicy to sweet garlic that’s perfect for roasting and spreading on toasted French bread. Fall is the ideal time to plant garlic, because the bulbs need to barely begin to sprout before the first hard frost, and then lie dormant during the winter before shooting up again in the spring for a summer harvest. Click here to find out all about planting your own garlic.
3: Plant Perennials for a Colorful Spring
Fall is also the perfect time to plant most spring-blooming perennial flowers, such as tulips and bearded irises. Like garlic, their bulbs need a dormant period during the winter to prepare them for spring growth. Click here to learn about planting 5 gorgeous perennial flowers this fall, and beautify your spring!
4: Grow Gorgeous Tulips in a Vase
Tulips look beautiful in your garden or as cut flowers in your home. But bloom time outdoors is limited, and cut flowers quickly die. Growing tulips in a vase is a way to enjoy their beauty indoors and keep them blooming for months at a time. You can’t beat that! Fall is a great time to order tulip bulbs, because indoor tulips bulbs also need a “resting period” during the cold season.
5: Plant Fall Annuals and Jumpstart your Flower Garden
Perennial bulbs aren’t the only flowers that you can plant outdoors in the fall. Pansies actually tend to have a more bountiful bloom if you plant the seeds in the fall and allow them to lie dormant during the winter. And this isn’t just for warmer parts of the country: this rule applies even as far north as USDA Hardiness Zone 4 (Minneapolis, MN). Pansies are edible, too, so they will beautify your table as well as your garden! Other cool weather perennials include: calendulas (another edible beauty), flowering kale, nemesias, and snapdragons.
6: Stretch out your Harvest with Cold-Weather Vegetables
Most of us think of summer tomatoes when we think of vegetable gardens, but your vegetable garden doesn’t have to be over just because fall is here. There are several fast-maturing vegetables that can be ready to harvest before the first killing frost, depending on where you live, and others that are at least partially frost-hardy. To grow vegetables that will be ready before your first hard frost, check your average frost date by entering your ZIP code on the Old Farmer’s Almanac website, or check with your local gardening center or university extension. Then check the seed packet for the vegetable you want to grow, and see how long it takes to mature. Better Homes and Gardens recommends adding two weeks to the maturation time just to be safe, because some plants grow more slowly in the fall. Here are some fast-growing vegetables that work well for fall planting:
- Leaf lettuce
Here are a few frost-hardy vegetables:
- Brussels sprouts
7: Polish your Landscaping with Trees and Shrubs
Most deciduous trees and shrubs benefit from fall planting, because it helps them avoid transplant shock caused by the summer heat. As long as your tree or shrub has a good root system that has grown inside of a container or burlap sack before you bring it home for planting, it should do well. Check with your local gardening center or university extension to make sure that the type of tree or shrub you want to plant is a type that does best with fall planting, and be sure to find out both the vertical and horizontal growth size of the plant so you can select the right plant for your space.
8: Perfect your Lawn with Fall-Planted Turf Grass
Fall is also a great time to take care of any “bald spots” you might have in your lawn. Planting grass in the fall with a process called dormant seeding will prepare your lawn to sprout up thick and luxurious in the spring. The trick to dormant seeding is to seed bare patches or thin areas of your lawn very late in the fall, when the ground is not frozen, but when it’s too cold for the seeds to germinate. If the seeds start growing, they probably won’t survive the winter if you live in an area with hard freezes. Click here to learn all about dormant seeding turf grass, courtesy of the University of Minnesota.
Fall is also a great time to plant herbs! Read our blog post about what herbs to plant this fall.