Off season? Nope - autumn gardens can be rewarding, too.
Other Fine Fall Garden Chores
Not interested in planting a fall garden? There’s plenty else to do in September and October. Here’s a sampling:
• Save Seed. You can’t save all seed. Seed from hybrids won’t breed true, and squash and pumpkins cross pollinate and usually yield inedible and odd-looking crosses. But you can collect the seedheads from many garden flowers: marigolds, Sweet Williams, cosmos, cleome, zinnias and others. Seedheads must be brown (dry) before you remove them or the seed won’t be viable. Spread seed in a saucer on a windowsill to dry some more, then store in moisture proof containers until planting.
• Divide Daylilies. Clumps need to be divided about every five years. If yours produce masses of foliage but few blooms, it’s time to dig them up (fall is the best time) and pry root masses apart using back-to-back spading forks. Replant divisions in fresh soil. Blooms may be limited the first year after division but will reward you the second.
• Stockpile Leaves. Bagging leaves and leaving them at the curb for the town truck to haul away is wasting a valuable resource. Instead, dump leaves in a pile or make a circular bin of chickenwire, top with a straw to tack them down and leave for a year (or two) until they have broken down. The resulting leaf mold makes a superb mulch and soil conditioner.
• Plant Garlic. The one crop for the coming year that you must get into the ground between October and December is garlic. Plant cloves, pointed end up, two inches below the soil surface, spaced five to six inches apart. Mulch thickly with leaves and straw. When daffodil foliage has poked out of the ground a few inches, remove the mulch and add compost to your garlic bed.