Fall Tasks For A Better Spring

Don’t hang up your clippers and gardening gloves just yet! By doing some of your fall tasks now, your garden can be all ready for next spring. Yes, spring seems a long way off now but with a few extra fall chores, you may just be getting ready for your best garden yet! After all, the greatest gardens often start in the fall. Let’s look into a few ways to make this happen!


Save Seeds

Now is the perfect time to collect mature seeds from your favorite garden varieties. The weather has been perfect for keeping those seeds dry. Some seeds to start out with could include beans, kale and nasturtiums. If you have seeds forming from open-pollinated plants, why not give seed saving a try? It’s a great way to save money and keep those special varieties for next year. You will also have some garden seeds to swap with your friends.

Saving bean seeds.

I’ve got the seed saving basics outlined right here. Get the kids involved. They will love getting the big seeds out of the bean pods once dry. You can make a game out of hunting for the nasturtium seeds that are ready for drying.

Garden Cleanup 

Much of spring garden work can be eliminated by cleaning up as much as possible in the fall. A garden left in tact can be pretty when covered with snow or frost but it’s a huge mess come spring. Why not leave some plants for winter interest and photo ops while cutting down the rest? If you have dealt with disease or pest problems, cleanup is an excellent way to ensure that you get rid of the problem. We deal with tomato blight in our area so my plants need to be bagged up or totally destroyed.

It’s a messy job!

Garden cleanup can be a hot topic but as a gardener, I love getting the garden put to bed every autumn. It helps with the following spring when things get really busy. I have put together some tips right here for fall cleanup!

Start A Compost Pile

Have you been dreaming about making your own compost? It may be the time to get started. With all of the garden debris from your garden cleanup, you could be on your way to a big start in composting! Most perennial plant matter and spent annuals can go right into the pile. Veggie garden vines and such can go in there too. Add in some fallen leaves and kitchen vegetable scraps for a balanced mix.

A nice mixture of greens and browns for the compost.

Whether you purchase a contained composting drum or just build a square frame with wire, composting is one of the best ways to deal with garden plant matter. There are endless ideas out there for making your own bin. You can even keep adding stuff over the winter if you have access to it. Maybe this is the time to start that worm composting bin you’ve always wanted.

Season Extension 

How could I not mention season extension? If you planted a fall garden or have greens that are still doing well, give them some protection from the cold. Construct a cold frame or make a mini greenhouse over the plants. Kale, spinach, hardy lettuce or parsley. Many things can be overwinter and even harvested through the winter months. Yes, even in Maine!

Floating row cover suspended over greens.

To learn all about 4 season growing click here. For some simple season extension tips, check this out. We have been growing in this way for many years and are thrilled with the results!

Plant Some Garlic

Growing your own garlic is fun and rewarding. Fall planted garlic is easy to grow and is super exciting to harvest the following summer. From mild to spicy hot, there’s a garlic variety for every palette. Even if you have a small garden space, a 3×3 area can yield a decent amount of garlic. Many of us use a ton of garlic in the kitchen. Why not try your hand at growing some for yourself?

Red Russian seed garlic.

Did you grow garlic this past year? Then select some of your larger cloves to replant! You can find out the simple steps to growing garlic here!

Plant Spring Bulbs

What would spring be without the snowdrops, crocus and tulips popping up? Ever wish that you had more color in your spring garden? The stores are full of plump bulbs right now. The bulb catalogs are coming in the mail. You could plant some bright blooms near your doorway. Grab a bushel of sturdy daffodils for an amazing natural display on the edge of the forest.

Bulbs ready for planting!

The possibilities are endless and only limited by your budget or ambition! Try growing some of the more unusual bulbs such as allium, fritillaria or some bizarre tulips. Frilly tulips, double daffodils or fall blooming crocus. If you do, your garden will be bursting with spring color! You can find more suggestions here.

Last show before frost!

These are just a few fall tasks that will get you well on your way to garden success in 2018! Get out and enjoy that fabulous fall air. There is still so much beauty to behold! The air is cooler and the ticks are out. Be careful out there as you take in all that fall has to offer. I’ve been taking the greenhouse plants down with a little assistance from my little garden helper. Let’s just say that there is never a dull moment! Until next week…happy gardening!


Beau is always in a tangle!


5 thoughts on “Fall Tasks For A Better Spring”

  1. My challenge is wanting the sculptural look of spent blossoms covered in frost and the tidy look of a cleaned up garden. Since the snow is usually too deep to see much, I should stop being slack and do the fall tasks as you have directed. Just being in the autumn air would be worth it. Holly

  2. Hillary,

    I always bagged up plants with blight but have been reading lately that you can safely compost them. So, I did a little more research after reading this post. The University of Maine still recommends bagging and destroying affected plants, but many other sources say that it is perfectly fine to compost the plants because blight needs living tissue to survive. Affected Potato tubers–which are living tissue–should be destroyed. Here’s a link: http://blogs.mcall.com/master_gardeners/2009/10/can-i-compost-tomato-plants-killed-by-late-blight.html. Something to think about, anyway!

    1. Thanks Brenda,
      I’m just trying to be cautious because the blight seems so bad among my neighbors. I’ll look into this. One year we had tomatoes come up where the chickens had been the previous year and they were not touched by the blight. The ones in the garden were. I wondered what the difference was but never mentioned it to the right person I guess.
      I loved seeing the process of your flax plants over on your blog. What a job! Beautiful pictures too!

      1. I understand the caution. I have been bagging up my tomato plants since we got here, although I have very few vegetable-growing neighbors and little blight (so far). I am going to compost the tomato plants this year and see how it goes. Fascinating about your chicken-area tomatoes. Maybe the plants were fortified by the manure and better able to deal with the blight?
        As for the flax, I’m glad you enjoyed the posts. It has been such a fun project and grows so well in Maine. I’m hoping to grow twice as much next year. There is a project in Nova Scotia–Tap Root Fiber–trying to start a small linen industry up there–http://taprootfibrelab.ca/. I would love to see something similar going here in Maine.

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