The signs of fall are here, including shortening days, turning leaves, and cawing crows. Resident hummingbirds already left for their tropical home, and monarchs are gorging on nectar for their trip to Mexico. Did summer fly by because time quickens with age, or because I spent less time in my garden this year trying to keep cool inside? There is still time to enjoy the garden and much to do before winter sets in.
- It’s not too late to plant garlic. Although it can be planted spring or fall, spring is often too wet and too busy. Plant the largest cloves about an inch deep and six inches apart in rows. Expect a little growth this fall, with harvest next summer.
- Spinach, lettuce, kale and corn salad or mache can also be fall planted with success. The first frost usually hits Central Indiana in mid-October, but a hard freeze doesn’t come until late November. However after this year, who is willing to play weatherman? Just plant and cross your fingers!
- Most lawns that were not irrigation-dependent survived the summer heat and drought. Nevertheless, now is the time to do some renovation. Your lawn is only as good as your grass seed. Purdue offers a great website to help homeowners determine which variety and blend is the best choice for their needs– www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/turfgrassSelectionTool/index.html. Another great resource is Paul Tukey’s book, The Organic Lawn Care Manual, available at www.SafeLawns.org. Consider reducing the size of your lawn. Shrubs and trees can add value and beauty to your yard and offer wildlife habitat as well.
- Speaking of wildlife, don’t deadhead your flowers now. Leave those fading seedheads. Some plants will self-sow for next year and some become food for birds.
- If you still don’t have a compost pile, fall is a perfect time to start one. I can’t imagine gardening without “garden gold” compost. It’s easy and there are many websites for info, like mastercomposter.com and composting101.com.
Lots to still do … get busy!