The concept of spring cleaning is well known and brings images of deep cleaning the house, cleaning those baseboards, or taking on projects that have been sitting on the to-do list. Spring cleaning represents a fresh start, getting ready for the following year. When it comes to gardening, experts agree that autumn is the best time of year to clean out that garden, prepare for winter, and prepare soil and plants for an excellent fresh spring start!
Preparing for Colder Months
Some call it “winterizing”, and even though not every state will experience what is traditionally considered winter, the temperatures will drop nationwide. Any gardener knows that the colder seasons bring significant changes in plant production and flower blooms. Those living in climates that will freeze this winter must take precautions so that the garden wakes up ready to go in the spring. When it comes to gardening, autumn is the time to clean up the garden and prepare it for colder months and a successful start in the spring.
Autumn Gardening Tips
Autumn brings cooler weather; in some areas, the brightly colored leaves can make the horizon look like it is on fire. Even if you do not live in an area with apparent signs of autumn, gardeners should embrace this time of year and consider it their “autumn cleaning”. Gardeners agree that autumn and fall can be the best times to learn about your garden. Autumn is an opportunity to slow down, and this is possible because growth and maintenance have slowed down. Gardeners have the luxury of time to make observations and pay close attention to what their garden is telling them. Gardeners who seize this season will have a healthier garden in spring.
The arrival of autumn means potted plants on porches and baskets are replaced with pumpkins. It is shocking how many people throw out the plants in pots in autumn when they are quite capable of coming back in the spring! It is not only a waste of money but also a shame to toss a temporarily dormant plant. Many people get rid of their mums because they think they’re annuals, but chrysanthemums are perennials that can survive winter in more than half of the United States. They are not as capable of making it through deep freezes, but Californian gardeners should hold on to their perennials. Chrysanthemums are used frequently in floral arrangements and can be used as popular potted gifts. You probably see them at the grocery store often – they bloom beautifully.
Some people have never thought of saving seeds each autumn. The process takes work, but seasoned gardeners will tell you that it is worth the time and effort. As gardeners continue to seek more sustainable gardens, saving seeds is one way to achieve that.
Flowers in a garden add rainbows of color, and lots of good pollen and food sources for bees every spring. Although everyone looks forward to that fresh, delicious honey, most people do not want to spend money on new flowers repeatedly. The excellent news is gardeners can save their seeds until next year. Timing is everything in gardening, and collecting seeds is best done on a warm, sunny day. Autumn is the time of year when sunny days are still popping up, so use them to your advantage!
It doesn’t matter what kind of seeds you’re collecting. Allow them to dry thoroughly on the plant so that they have time to germinate, but don’t wait too long. Let the seeds dry for about a week after collecting them and separating them from the other material. They can be stored in an envelope or a jar and stored. Make sure you label those envelopes and jars! It is best to plant seeds you’ve collected the following year because their germination rate will diminish over time. Leave some seeds on the plants and flowers for critters to eat over the winter, and they can help keep pests away for free.
Autumn is an ideal time for gardeners to spend time tidying up because the soil is still warm, but there is a break in the heat outside. Herbs, vegetables, new trees, and shrubs are suitable for autumn growing. Planting evergreens is another way to keep your garden green even through winter. The cooler air makes autumn the perfect time to use evergreens to stay beautiful. Holly is another way to keep greenery with a splash of color and is ideal for the holidays.
The local pollinators, especially the bees, will appreciate any growth during the colder seasons! Hives will be less active, so it is not likely any hives will need to be relocated until spring. Soil and lawn care are ideally done in autumn, so take advantage of the opportunity to treat weeds in your lawn and fertilize the soil before it gets too cold. Mulch can be used to help the ground retain moisture, keep weeds from growing, and protect plant roots. Happy cleaning!