While summer may be nice and enjoyed by many, September through to November is one of my favourite times of the year. You get to break out your oversized, cozy sweaters to keep you warm against the chilly winds that blow. Some of the best foods come in season, hello all you can eat chilli and all the potato dishes. And can we talk about the colours that nature conjures up come autumn, hello beautiful!
Gardening may not be on the top of the list when you think about autumn, but there are many things you can do to help your garden transition into autumn. Prepping your garden in the fall, can lead to a much healthier and prosperous spring for your gardens. Some even recommend planting new trees in the beginning of autumn when the soil is still damp and leaf development has slowed meaning more energy can be devoted to building a strong root foundation. However I’m not sure if new trees would survive our winters, so that tip may need to be researched more.
While we may not think about autumn as the gardening season, there are plenty of things you can do to help kick start your garden for spring.
Leaf me alone
Leave the fallen leaves where they are at, unless they are posing a risk such as in your gutters or storm drains. The decaying leaf matter provides your lawn and gardens an excellent source of nitrogen and carbon, helping to create better soil for next year. To help reduce the risk of clogging up the storm drains, mulch the leaves using your lawn mower, this also makes it much easier for the leaves to “digest” into the soil.
A layer of mulched leaves and grass clippings can provide added protection from the snow that is on its way. They provide a barrier from the extreme temperatures and moisture, reducing the amount of burned area and snow mold on your lawn. If you have to clean up and dispose of the leaves, use a paper yard waste bag and take the filled bags to the public yard waste sites at the recycling depots, where they will be added to the open air compost piles at the landfill.
Let’s talk about plants, baby
If you have planters that need to be emptied come autumn, add them to your own compost pile. The nutrients from the decaying plant matter will be cycled back into your garden next year when you spread your compost. Or if you do not have your own compost pile, empty the plant material into a compostable paper yard waste bag. That way you can take your garden leftovers to the yard waste sites, where the waste will be added to the compost pile. Keep your dirt for yourself for next year though!
Once spooky season is over and your pumpkins are done haunting your front porch, bring them to the yard waste sites so that they can also be added to the compost piles!
If only we had more thyme in the year
Autumn is a great time to bring your herb garden inside. Most herbs can be grown indoors in a planter year round, think basil, mint, rosemary and thyme. Separate them into different pots to better manage their water needs. If you don’t think you can keep a plant alive through our cold, dark winter try drying them for use throughout the year. Simply place your herbs on a shallow pan and place in an oven on very low heat, 180℉ or less, for 2-4 hours. Once the herbs crumble easily, you can take them out, cool them and store them in an airtight container for months to come.
Autumn is also time to harvest your root vegetables, apples, pears and whatever else is hanging on before the first frost. Can’t eat all of your bountiful harvest at once, try making some pickled carrots or some homemade jam. You’ll be reaping what you sowed for the long winter ahead.
Autumn is the perfect time to start planning out your garden for next spring. Maybe you want to add a little extra here, remove something there, it’s a great time to visualize what you want your space to look like next year. It’s never too early to start planning for upgrades or looking into new landscaping ideas:
- Tired of having to water your lawn so it stays green, try looking into xeriscaping
- Native grass gardens are becoming more popular because they promote biodiversity and are suitable for our climate
- Pollinator gardens are a great way to increase biodiversity, lower watering frequency and add a lot of colour in a small space
There are so many new and innovative lawn and garden solutions that you could spend hours dreaming and scheming your way to an awesome spring garden. And maybe it will give you a little hope as we journey into the winter months.
Autumn isn’t just about watching the leaves turn and bracing ourselves for the cold winter ahead. There is still lots of life left come September and October that can be used to help sustain yourself and your garden through the winter. Using nature’s waste is a great way to get back to the cyclical way of doing things, rather than just tossing the leaves and branches in the landfill. Preparing for the spring while still in autumn will provide your garden the chance to recycle the nutrients it lost during the past growing season and give it the best chance of flourishing come the warm weather. Don’t stop beleafing in autumn, good things will grow again!