FEATURE — Autumn is officially here, and there is much to look forward to – pumpkins on the porch, apple cider, cooler temperatures and walks through crunchy leaves. But before you get too comfortable, don’t forget there are still yard and garden end-of-season tasks to be done.
Here are tips from the Utah State University Extension Gardeners Almanac to help. Included are links to fact sheets and videos for further information.
In the garden
- Consider adding a smaller structure such as a low tunnel or a larger high tunnel to extend your growing season.
- Learn how and when to harvest winter squash. Store winter squash in a cool, 50-55 F, dry location.
- Plant garlic cloves from mid-October through early November.
- Remove vegetable plants from the garden once the harvest is complete. This will help reduce overwintering sites for insect pests.
- Protect tomatoes from early frost by covering the plants with a blanket or tarp.
- Overwinter carrots, beets and parsnips in the ground by placing mulch over them. This prevents the ground from freezing.
- Rototill leaves, compost and/or manure into the vegetable garden to enhance the soil microbe activity.
- Click here for the average first and last frost dates in locations around Utah.
Yard and landscape
- Limit rose pruning to heading back excessively long canes. This will help prevent damage from heavy snow loads.
- Cut back ornamental grasses in snow-prone areas once the foliage has died down; otherwise, leave them until spring and enjoy the vertical accent during winter.
- Plant spring-blooming bulbs through early November.
- Consider planting trees and shrubs in the fall to enhance root establishment.
- Dig tender perennials such as gladiolas, dahlias, begonias and canna lilies after the foliage has died down and store them in a cool, 45-50 F, dry location.
- Protect trunks of young trees from winter cracking by wrapping them with a white reflective tree wrap.
- Dig and remove annual flower plantings.
- Plant cold-hardy annuals such as pansies, primrose, kale and ornamental cabbage.
- Prune out (to the ground) raspberry canes that have fruited.
- Fall is the best time to control tough perennial weeds such as field bindweed (morning glory). Click here for a list of weed control options.
- The last lawn mowing of the season should be 1-1 ½ inches high to minimize disease problems.
- Apply a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer after the last mowing (late October to early November) for early green-up next spring.
- Click here for a list of fall cleanup chores and good landscape practices.
Pests and problems
- Send diseased vegetable plants and leaves to the local landfill.
- Use burlap or other soft materials to wrap evergreens to prevent snow breakage.
- Treat for Coryneum blight in stone fruits (cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums) when 50 percent of leaves have dropped.
- Clean up and discard fallen fruit to reduce overwintering sites for disease and insect pests.
For more on using structures to extend growing season, see video at the top of this report, courtesy of USU Extension.