You’re really gonna dig these fall gardening tips and tools
In many parts of the country, the leaves are falling, and the vegetable garden has produced its final tomato (though the tougher veggies—like kale—will produce for you until a deep freeze sets in if you cover them in the chill).
Instead of dreading the long winter, we say this is the best time to plan for spring. Look around the yard and imagine a group of tulips tucked into a bed near the house, or a cheerful circle of daffodils around the gazebo.
If you’re lucky enough to live in cooler climates where these spring treasures thrive, get out there before the ground freezes and start digging. Keep in mind that tulips like the sun. If you’re an orderly person, you might pick two complementary shades. Be sure to find out how tall the plant will grow, and dig those taller tulips in the back of your bed. We love the slightly messy, cottage-garden look, so we’ll plant a plethora of different shades. Mother Nature doesn’t allow for clashing colors, after all.
Carol O’Meara, extension agent with Colorado State University Extension, also notes that it’s a fine time to plant young trees. The soil is still easy to turn, and those roots will find their way to the ground before the worst of the cold hits.
A few other tips O’Meara learned from the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado:
- If you have pumpkins and gourds out there, fence them in. To a squirrel, the inside of a gourd is as tasty as pumpkin pie is to us at Thanksgiving.
- Clean up and compost those spent plants in your garden, and turn that soil. It’ll make it easier to start over in the spring.
- Pick herbs before the first freeze and bring them in to dry. Keep them in a cool, dry place, or freeze them in ice cube trays in water. Pop them out as needed through the winter for stews and soups.
Ready to get digging? O’Meara offers a few tools she can’t do without (prices for these tools and gloves vary by size):
- Felco pruners (available at Gardener’s Supply Company and major hardware stores). They aren’t inexpensive, she says, but a great pair of pruners is a worth investment. Corona is another brand to look for, O’Meara notes.
- Atlas gloves (available at garden centers and hardware stores, including Ace Hardware). “These are perfect for fall chores, especially if you grab a handful of soft tomatoes or fruit starting to turn to mush,” O’Meara says. “The Atlas gloves have a plastic-feel on the palms and fingers, so no icky squishing through fabric.”
- Bulldog Spading Forks (available at Lowe’s and other garden centers). Bulldog forks are great for lifting plants from the ground, O’Meara says. So when you’re pulling out the spent plants, or those that didn’t thrive this year, reach for a Bulldog. “I find that the older I get, the more I need the leverage to get the plant to let go of the earth. A spading fork saves my back.”