plant nursery

Gardening may be a pastime dominated by older generations, but more and more young people are starting to shop at the plant nursery and develop their green thumb as gardeners.

Of course, with summer over and winter on its way, gardening isn’t the first thing most people think of. But if you had a garden this year, it’s important to properly prepare it for the coming winter during the fall.

By following these suggestions, your garden will be better prepared for planting when you return from the plant nursery next spring.

Clean Up Leftover Plants

Old rotting plants don’t just look bad in your garden. They can also be excellent breeding grounds for pests, funguses, and diseases. Insects will regularly lay eggs inside plant leaves and stalks during the summer and these will hatch in the spring to cause a bigger problem than you’ll be prepared to deal with.

If the plants are disease-free, you can compost or bury them to add organic matter and fertilization to the soil. Any plants with noticeable diseases should be burned or thrown away.

Take Out Lingering Weeds

You probably had at least a few weeds pop up over the summer that you just couldn’t seem to get rid of. Now is the perfect time to dig them up and burn them or place them in the trash.

It can be tempting to place weeds on your compost pile, but this is a temptation you should avoid. Weeds tend to remain viable even when in a compost heap, and their seeds could sprout come spring. Burn or dispose of them far away from your garden to keep them from disrupting next year’s garden.

Fertilize Your Garden

Most people wait until spring to add soil amendments like compost, manure, bone meal, rock phosphate, and kelp, which you can find at your local plant nursery. However, for most climates it’s most beneficial to add these nutrients during the fall. Additionally, turning or tilling the soil in the fall will make the ground easier to work in come spring.

This headstart gives the natural fertilizers time to break down and become biologically active so they can truly benefit your soil during the spring. Besides, you’ll have enough to keep you busy by springtime. Why add to the chaos then when you could get this part out of the way now?

Plant Cover Crops

Late summer and early fall are usually perfect times to plant cover crops like clover, rye, and vetch. These plants prevent soil erosion, break up compacted dirt, and increase levels of nutrients and organic matter. Usually, you’ll want to plant your cover crop one month before the first harsh frost, but this can vary for different kinds of cover crop plants.

Prune Perennial Plants

Fall is also a great time to trim perennial garden plants. Keep in mind that this process is different for different kinds of plants, so you’ll want to research how to do it properly for each variety you have in your garden. However, the following are some guidelines to get you started.

Raspberry canes that look like they should be removed actually continue to nourish the plant through the winter, so these should be left. Blueberries will also do better with a spring pruning. Most pruning efforts should be devoted to herbs like sage, thyme, and rosemary, as well as vegetables like asparagus and rhubarb. Finally, blackberries will benefit from a fall trimming, where spent and crossing canes should be removed to control spreading.

Divide and Transplant Bulbs

Some flowering bulbs bloom in spring, while others bloom in summer. About four weeks after the summer blooms have disappeared, it’s time to dig up and divide bulbs that looked too crowded while they were blooming. Since spring bulbs bloomed much earlier, this might involve some guesswork.

Cautiously dig between four and eight inches away from the plant’s stalk, loosening the soil around it. Then gently lift bulbs out and separate bulblets for transplanting elsewhere. If you already have spring bulbs that you dug up earlier in the year, now is the time to plant those, too.

Final Steps

Last, you’ll want to clean, sharpen, and lightly oil your garden tools before storing them for the winter.

With those steps complete, you should be well prepared to visit your plant nursery and start gardening again in the spring.