Fall clean up and preparation for your garden!





By John Musser


Sometimes, we get really busy in life. No matter how many years I garden, I find myself needing a list for all the things I need to accomplish in the fall.


The following is for that purpose alone! Much can be added or subtracted for YOUR garden. No matter what the temperature is like in your homeland, you should never completely stop gardening! There are always small chores that need attention for clean-up and mostly for preparation for the next seed-time and harvest. “Fall clean up and preparation for your garden!” will inspire you with some new ideas as well as upcoming posts in this series.




I encourage you to keep a garden journal. Be sure to record your ideas, successes, any problems, where your planted crops grow best in your garden area and ideas for next year. Keep a record of websites that help you along the way, important books you need to read, and contacts you would like to cultivate. In time, you can create your very own personalized checklist in your journal for your unique needs. Fall clean up and preparation for your garden is just another step toward abundant food sustainability.


A general list to help get your checklist started

  • Remove all rotten fruit from the ground around the trees—infestations last through winter.
  • Mulch to maintain soil quality using weeds (but not those with seeds), cocoa hulls, grass clippings, leaves, and straw.
  • Plant cover crops after harvest to correct soil compaction.
  • Confuse pathogens by mapping out a garden plan for crop rotation for some of your crops that show signs of need.
  • Protect perennials from frost heaving by mulching after the ground freezes.
  • Protect ornamentals such as azaleas and berry bushes from bud-eating deer with deer netting.
  • Clean out old annuals and weeds before seeds drop unless you want them to.
  • Cut back spent perennials that create hiding places for slugs, snails, and other pests. Prevent problem seeds from spreading.
  • Leave dried flowers, ornamental grasses, and seed heads that look good and provide food for birds.
  • Plant a fall cover crop.
  • Build a simple compost bin for fall leaves. Add fresh leaves and grass cuttings to your compost and cover until spring.
  • Rake up and dispose of leaves around roses, apple trees, and plants susceptible to powdery mildew and other pests and diseases that overwinter on debris.
  • Remove diseased tomato, potato, and squash foliage to prevent disease. Do not toss these plants in the compost. Bag and discard.
  • Remove dead branches from roses and fruit trees (no pruning yet).
  • Mulch the garden with chopped-up leaves and grass clippings.
  • Seed your garden with a good overwinter compost tea
  • Plant spring bulbs.
  • Clean tool blades with vegetable oil and handles with sandpaper.


Fall clean up and preparation for your garden!


For much more great reading on this subject click here




Fall clean up and preparation for your garden.  Article from: University of California


  • Compost disease-free annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.
  • Clean up diseased and damaged plant materials so the pathogens don’t overwinter. Remove dead roots, leaves and stems from your vegetable garden and pick up fallen fruit. Dispose of them in your green can.
  • Add compost and soil amendments to your garden; cultivate into soil, but don’t disturb shallow-rooted plants.
  • Plant cover crops, like fava beans, crimson clover and vetch, to improve soil structure and fertility in bare vegetable beds.
  • Feed azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons with a 0-10-10 fertilizer monthly up to bloom time.
  • Visit nurseries to see trees and shrubs with outstanding fall color; determine if there’s a place in your garden that would benefit from one of these selections.
  • Plant ornamental grasses, shrubs, perennials, evergreens and ground-covers. Winter rains will help establish sturdy root systems.
  • Buy bedding plants for fall and winter color, including calendulas, cyclamen, Iceland poppies, nemesia, osteopermum, pansies, primroses, snapdragons and violas.
  • Plant nursery starts of cool-season vegetables. In foggier microclimates: artichoke (rootstock), fava beans, cabbage, garlic, leeks, peas, spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce, radish (small varieties), shallot sets. In sunnier microclimates: artichoke (rootstock), fava beans, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, garlic sets, leeks, peas, radish (small varieties), spinach, Swiss chard.
  • Reseed bare spots in your lawn or install sod. Consider reducing the size of your lawn or removing it entirely to conserve water.
  • Dig up corms and tubers of gladiolus, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies, if you’ve lost these plants over past winters. Store them in a cool, dry place.
  • Put tulip, narcissus and hyacinth bulbs in the refrigerator in breathable bags to pre-chill for six weeks prior to planting. Do not store them with apples, which emit ethylene gas that will sprout the bulbs.
  • Start amaryllis, narcissus and paperwhite narcissus bulbs inside for holiday gifts.
  • Visit your garden after dark with a flashlight and handpick snails and slugs. Control measures in fall will help reduce populations in spring.
  • Reduce your irrigation times significantly as day length shortens and plant growth slows or stops.
  • Prepare planting holes now for installing bare-root plants and trees in winter.



  • Sow native wildflower seed.
  • Plant perennials and evergreens.
  • Dig, divide and replant overgrown perennials for more profuse blooms next spring.
  • Mulch bare soil to hold in moisture, keep out weeds and prevent compaction by hard rains.
  • Plant bulbs for spring color, including daffodils, crocus, freesia and hyacinths.
  • Plant garlic and shallot sets.
  • Prune dead or broken branches on trees and shrubs.
  • Remove the bands of corrugated cardboard used to trap codling moth larvae from around apple tree trunks and dispose of them.
  • For larger camellia blooms, remove all but one fat bud from each stem.
  • Compost fallen leaves. Layer green and brown materials in your compost pile.
  • Create new planting areas by layering sheet mulch over weed patches or unwanted lawn.
  • Turn off your irrigation system for the season; continue to water plants under overhangs.



  • Plant any bulbs you’ve pre-chilled as soon as you’ve removed them from the refrigerator.
  • Cover open compost bins with a tarp when the rains begin.
  • If frost is predicted, cover sensitive garden plants such as citrus, fuchsia and succulents or move them under a sheltering overhang. Use stakes around the plants to suspend the covering material so it doesn’t touch the foliage.
  • Clean your tools—remove all soil and wash them with a 10 percent bleach solution to avoid spreading diseases. After drying them completely, apply a light layer of vegetable oil to prevent rusting.
  • Sharpen your tools.
  • Take cuttings of succulents and create small container gardens for holiday gifts.
  • Bring trimmed bare branches indoors for a unique decorative element.
  • Tour your landscape during a heavy rainfall. See where water is coming off your house and where there are eroding torrents. Think about ways to slow, spread and sink the rain.


Please let us know if this post helps! Your comments make a difference, we want to make sure we are hitting the mark.

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Please visit our online store. We add new items weekly. A very important subject related to this post is our Preserving the Harvest Book.  Right now at AESL we are not only cleaning our garden beds and busy with planting and preparation, but we are also preserving the harvest of the year. Throughout the growing season, we don’t have the time to can everything so we just blanch a crop and can or process later. So, right now, we are picking up summer’s slack. We have one of the best books available on this subject, quite a masterpiece. Click here to check it out.

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