It’s hard to believe that fall is just around the corner- weren’t we just celebrating the New Year? It certainly seems that way, but the reality is, soon those annuals will begin to fade, the temperatures will become cooler and the leaves will start to turn. You’ve done a lot of work this summer, tending to your plants, vegetables, herb, and so on, but there’s still some more work to be done before you can get cozy in that blanket on the couch.

 Get Rid of All Dead Vegetation

By the time summer has faded, your garden is likely to be a bit of a mess. If it is, while the task ahead can seem overwhelming, take it one bed at a time to make it at least seem a bit easier. First, take note of any damage, as a garden can tell you a lot at the end of the growing season. Assess the results of your hard work over the spring and summer by taking a walk around your garden, and looking at how all of your plants did. Write down successes and failures of individual plants so you don’t forget next year, and identify which plants have outgrown their space and need to be divided.

Getting rid of all dead plant material, rotten fruits and vegetables is a must, as some diseases, like late blight, and certain pests can live on what’s left in the garden, such as fruit and foliage. If any of your plants have developed blight, mildew or mold, be sure to burn them to avoid spreading it rather than tossing them in a compost pile.

Plant Cover Crops

Planting is a lot more fun than cleaning up, and planting cover crops is easy to do. They’ll help keep soil microbes alive and active during the winter while also helping to suppress weeds and reduce erosion that can carry away valuable topsoil. Ideally, you should plant fall cover crops at least four weeks before the first frost. Legumes need to go in a bit earlier, by mid-September, as they take longer to germinate, while rye crops can be planted a bit later, up until the first frost.

Eradicate Those Weeds

Weeding is a necessary evil, and it’s important to get them out before the seeds begin to fall. Getting a handle on them now is important for slowing growth and keeping them from getting ahead of you when spring comes around. Remember that weeds that are spread by seed produce thousands of more seeds – for example, redwood pigweed can bear up to 117,000 seeds per plant. If even half of those pigweed seedlings germinate next spring, you’d have an astounding  58,000 pigweed plants to pull.

We know, we know. It’s not easy to do, and despite all of our advanced modern technology, there is still no better way to do it than to pull them all out by hand. But, you will get some good exercise. Be sure to get the root out along with the weed, wear tough garden gloves, and consider getting a comfy sitting pad if you have lots to weed. If you can, pull the weed from its base, so that you get the root and weed all at once, but if that’s not possible, you can use a fork to pry the root out of the ground.

Clear Out Your Compost Bins

When you clean up your garden beds, you’ll naturally have a lot of material going into the compost heap. That makes now a good time to clear out the compost from last year and use it around your garden to make room in the bins for this season’s waste.

Herb Containers

If you have herbs growing in containers, they’re probably starting to look pretty shabby now, so either harvest and dry them for use, or move them indoors in a place that gets a lot of natural light.

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