Layer fallen, shredded tree leaves, compost and fertilizer in the garden bed and turn under the soil. You could also dig trenches in the garden, pile in the leaves and compost and cover with soil. These organic soil amendments will decompose over winter and leave the soil more fertile when spring rolls around.
The fall is the best time to add compost or manure to your garden soil. There are many forms of nitrogen that can exist in compost or manure. Not all forms of nitrogen are forms that plants can use. Some forms of nitrogen need to be broken down by bacteria or other plants into forms that are usable.
All fall crops can be planted in raised beds since most of them are on the smaller side. Even the largest fall crops, like cauliflower or broccoli plants can thrive in raised beds. Greens, lettuce, cruciferous vegetables and some root crops are the stars in fall gardens.
Cover Up the Garden Beds
Add a couple inches of compost or manure on top of your beds any time before the ground freezes. Then, add a light layer of straw or mulch to prevent soil erosion, nutrient leaching, and weed development.
Best Fall Lawn Fertilizer
While this fall lawn fertilizer dose is important, an application at the end of October or early November is essential. At that time, apply a fertilizer with a formula of 13-25-12. The push of phosphorus will stimulate root growth through November and even into early December.
Whether you're new to gardening, or a seasoned pro, building better soil is the single most important thing you can do to improve your gardening success. And fall is the best time to do it! To learn more, read Building Healthy Soil.
Q: When is the best time to cut back in the fall? A: “When they start to look too ratty for you and before the fresh new growth begins,” says Sarah. For plants that are frost-sensitive, wait until after the plants have gone through several hard frosts to ensure they're dormant before cutting back.
Remove Summer Edibles, Diseased Plants and Weeds
Strip plants of any remaining fruits and seeds and remove them from garden beds. You can add the plants to a compost pile, if you have one, or toss them in the green wastebin. (Fall is a great time to start composting.)
It's important to cut back foliage in the fall to protect flowering plants from disease and give them a clean start for regrowth as winter starts to turn into spring. However, there are some plants you can keep around through the winter since they benefit wildlife and still offer visual interest for your home.
If you live in an area where snow falls in winter, many experts recommend covering your garden bed with thick coverings or plastic to protect sensitive plants from potential damage. This additional protective layer can prevent soil erosion, nutrient depletion, and help prevent the growth of harmful weeds.
Leave Leaves for Wildlife
Fallen leaves also provide wildlife, especially pollinators, with some winter cover. Bees, moths, butterflies, snails, spiders, and dozens of arthropods and pollinators overwinter in dead plant material for protection from cold weather and predators.
When To Winterize Your Gardens. The best time to start winterizing gardens is after the first hard freeze in the fall. A hard freeze occurs when the temperature gets below freezing overnight, killing off tender annual plants and vegetables.
Your garden is only as healthy as your soil. Adding nutrient-rich compost in the fall will greatly improve your soil next spring. Healthy soil is teeming with life — from macro-organisms like earthworms and pill bugs down to the microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and microbes.
As the organic matter in mulch breaks down it releases minerals and nitrogen, which enriches the soil throughout the fall and winter, and leads to healthier shoots and blooms in spring. Fall mulching also gives soil-improving earthworms and microbes added warmth and good food for the winter.
When to Start Fall Cleanup. Whenever you see summer plants dying or diseased, remove them to avoid disease. But generally, fall cleanup begins after the first killing frost. Even then, we only remove dead crops or debris as it invites disease and pests.
Fall Fertilizer Timing
For the majority of cool-season lawn owners, apply fertilizer anywhere from September through early November. The further north you garden, the sooner you'll feed your lawn. Fine-tune the timing for your locale by talking with your local extension service or garden center.
Fertilizing in the fall helps plants be hardier when the temperatures drop. We also recommend applying fertilizer in the late fall, toward the end of October or early November. This application will catalyze one last frenzy of root growth and really give your plants some staying power through the cold months.
In general, try your best to apply it between September 1 and October 15. The farther north you live, the earlier you should apply it. The goal is to have at least one month of active grass growing weather remaining before winter takes its grip.
Cutting out the sod underneath your beds, then laying landscape fabric down underneath your beds work best. The fabric will allow water to pass through, but will help prevent weeds. If you cannot dig up the grass, you can also tarp it for a few weeks or months first, and that will effectively bake the grass.