Autumn : Fall Gardening Essentials
Now is a great time to top dress and over seed lawns. The weather is cooler making it much easier to keep seed moist between irrigation applications, especially if you do not have an automatic watering system. However , don't wait too long because you want to ensure that the soil temperature is still warm enough to promote germination. Your lawn will benefit from one more fertilizer application before the end of the growing season. Don't forget to follow up with a healthy lime application to deter pesky moss from creeping in throughout the wet winter months.
Pruning and Mulching
Many perennials will begin to show signs of dormancy soon. When appropriate, begin cutting back spent plants and do a thorough clean up. You may also want to consider dividing them if they are beginning to overwhelm available space in the garden. Divisions can be replanted to fill other voids in the garden- this is a great money saver! Pruning most shrubs should be left for spring, unless you are trying to correct minor damage that occured during the growing season. A healthy 3" application of composted mulch will insulate the roots of your plants, helping them overwinter.
Time to prepare those vegetable beds for spring planting! Clean up all spent plants and do a thorough weed. Late harvest vegetables such as kale, carrots, parsnips, brussel sprouts (YUCK), etc. can be left until winter providing your soil is relatively well drained and we do not have excessive consecutive frost/freezing. It is, in my opinion, easier to amend the existing soil in the fall before rains arrive. Till in a generous amount of composted organic matter to boost your soil for next year, and consider planting a cover crop such as fall rye to reduce weed growth over the winter. Fall rye will also add additional valuable organic matter once it has been tilled in come spring. If you are feeling brave and temperatures stay somewhat mild, you may want to try and sow some crops before the end of September that will endure cooler temperatures, such as Arugula, Bok Choi, parsley, and some salad greens. Alternatively, you can cheat like me and go to your local garden center and by some fall starters! Oh and don't forget GARLIC!
We have just begun to scratch the surface of chores that need completing before the season change.
Good luck out there and for goodness sake, keep dry!