Have you felt the first signs of the change of season yet? Maybe in a slightly cooler breeze or the leaves making their colourful transitions? Autumn is almost upon us. But before we say goodbye to this year’s growing season, there’s the final work of the season to be done. Gardening never truly ends. Even if we break for a season, like winter here in Canada, the cycle of the garden continues. Just like all things in the natural world, the connection between “gardening years” seemingly waxes and wanes but is always continued. Therefore, each Fall we complete our End of the Season garden checklist to keep our natural spaces, happy, healthy and ready to thrive the following year.
We break up our garden checklist into three sections, the first is general cleanup, second maintenance and third preparations. Even though technically each section is a preparation in one way or another for the following year!
- Pull any residual weeds, cut down or remove any annuals and complete any deadheading. Some types of trees and shrubs can even be pruned (but be sure to research this first as pruning too early before frost can actually hurt a plant’s natural growth cycles).
- Harvest your bounty! We’re talking any fruits or vegetables! Be sure to clear and clean their growing spaces. You want to avoid having any remnants from the previous year in beds/the garden, especially if you’re planning on cycling your crops.
- For any annuals, perennials, fruits or vegetables, if anything has fruited to maturity, you can find seeds inside! Keep a few seeds from whatever you can to begin your very own “home-grown” seed collection.
- For any annuals or container gardens, remove any plant matter, its roots and remaining potting soil. Wash and clean them out accordingly and bring in any fragile materials that are not meant to withstand all four seasons.
- Drain, shut down and store any watering systems or hoses! Simply disconnecting will not cut it! The fluctuations in temperatures, not to mention in many cases the extreme cold can damage the inner linings and the integrity of the systems. And hoses/watering systems can be rather expensive.
- Using soap and water and rubbing alcohol clean and disinfect all your garden tools. Add this to your garden checklist every year and your tools can last a very long time. Disinfection will help ensure that you’re not spreading any plant disease from soil/other plants.
- Add mulch and organic matter/compost to beds/gardens and aerate your lawn before the first frosts. These things will promote healthier plants in the long run and will come in handy strengthening your beds and lawns in the coming year.
- Plant perennials! Not only will many perennials be found marked down, but Fall planting (with at least 6 weeks before frost) allows plants the time to establish themselves before the active Spring growing season. This method tends to have high establishment and success rates!
- Plants bulbs – Many of our favourite flowers of Spring are grown from bulbs that have to be planted around this year (think hyacinths, daffodils and tulips), but also the fan-favourite, garlic, which needs to be placed in the ground in the late fall. This is an essential point for the end of season garden checklist because those bulbs really need the whole winter in the ground (there’s no cheating!). Read more about planting Spring bulbs in the next post of the Wild Blog!
- Similar to perennials being marked down, most garden tools will be too. If there’s something missing from your arsenal, this is the absolute best time to purchase. This is also true for large containers/pots for container gardening!
- Winterize any plants that are less hardy in your growing zone either by mounding or using burlap or other similar material to cover and bind them.
- Make a detailed diagram of your garden before you take everything out/down – this is one of those essential points that so many people forget. Take notes (while you remember) of what grew where and how it did. When you are planning next year’s garden you’ll be grateful for taking down this information.
While our garden checklist is a great starting point, make it a habit to begin creating yours. Each year it may change but slowly it will become very individualized and will make these preparations a breeze. We love utilizing a journal for all things garden and recommend investing in something where you can keep a record of your green thumb! Plus, it’s oddly nostalgic to look back at your previous years of successes. We hope you’ve had a lovely 2023 gardening season and we already can’t wait for next year. If you’re looking for additional inspirational reading material, check out The Wild Blog, for more on all things garden and lifestyle. Lastly, we’d love to connect, be sure to follow us on Instagram and Pinterest!