Temperatures are definitely getting fall-like! It’s my favorite time of year. Let’s start in the garden. Just because it’s getting cool outside doesn’t mean growing edibles is over. You can still plant greens, lettuces, and kale. These are quick growing and will be good until the first hard frost. Kale even gets better with a little kiss of frost! If frost comes early, cover them at night. If you don’t want to plant these, consider doing a cover crop for the garden. Plant the entire garden with winter ryegrass or clover. In the spring, turn it under to enrich your soil for planting. Add some fall annuals to the landscape. Pansies, garden mums, and ornamental kale will add color through the first frost.
Fall is a great time to plant bulbs for spring. Wait until nighttime temperatures are consistently in the 40s and 50s. Crocus, tulips, alliums, and daffodils will give beautiful color in the spring. Don’t forget to add mulch! If you have digging squirrels, cover with a piece of plywood and weigh down. Mulch your perennial beds and cut them back. Keep weeding till the hard freezes come. Now is the best time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials too. Just remember to water well and regularly till the ground freezes to get them through the winter.
Once grass cutting has ended, drain the mower. Grease the engine and replace the sparkplug if necessary. If you have any other gas-powered tools, drain them too and clean the air filters before storing. Drain the rain barrel before freezing temperatures. Clean all the garden tools. Use steel wool to remove any crusted-on dirt and rust. Rub linseed oil on any wooden handles and wipe off excess.
Last but not least, go shopping! Many garden centers will discount patio furniture, garden tools, and other lawn and garden implements. Trees, shrubs, and perennials will usually be at a discount too.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO