15 Fall Garden Tasks – that I still have to accomplish…


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I’m still not finished with my fall garden tasks! Are YOU?

15 fall garden tasks

I admit it! This is what my garden looks like right now. It’s quite the mess. I have ignored it for weeks – with our trip to New York and Boston and just being plain busy. Last weekend, we had really cold, and prolonged cold, weather.

last garden hauls of 2014

I knew that would be the end of the garden so the kids and I picked the last of the tomatoes (green & semi red) and all the peppers we thought we’d be able to use. We also finally dug the sweet potatoes. So I’ve gotten all the produce out of my garden now that I will use, but I have a ton of stuff to finish up before the ground freezes.

Here’s the long list of items yet to accomplish in my world…before winter sets in…and the clock is ticking, y’all.

15 Fall Garden Tasks

1. Remove dead plants (tomato, pea, beans, squash etc) and either compost if they are healthy plants, or burn or throw-out if they are diseased.

2. Leave brassacias in the garden over winter though. Cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and radishes release cyanide compounds that act as pest lures in the early spring if left in the garden. – My husband is going to love me when I draw lines across my garden that he’s to avoid while tilling. 😀

3. Gently till garden soil to loosen it up for spring planting. Some people think tilling the garden in the fall is unnecessary, but I think it helps my garden to be ready earlier in the spring.

4. Test garden soil. You can buy a DIY soil testing kit online and do it yourself – OR send samples to most university cooperative extension offices.

5. Amend garden with organic matter like compost and/or animal manure to make your soil healthy and happy for the next year. Definitely avoid synthetic fertilizers!!!

6. Enlarge my garden. The fall is the perfect time to till up the extra land, and I NEED some extra space for next year. Especially if my cucurbits go gang bustas like they did this past year!

7. Prune fruit trees and berry bushes. m-  Okay…I’ve been reading up on pruning in the fall – and the HUGE consensus is – wait until the dead of the winter when these plants are 100% dormant to prune – otherwise you’re risking disease and bug infestation. Can’t wait for -15F weather to prune, friends! UGH!!! Looks like we’ll be watching the weather closely this winter and heading out either at the end of February or the beginning of March, weather depending.

8. Divide hardy bulbs and flowering plants like tulips, daffodils, iris, hostas, black-eyed susan, daylilies, and coneflowers.

9. Dig up delicate flower bulbs like dahlia, canna,  and gladiolus. Store in a dry, cool (60-65 degrees) place over winter.

10. Mulch strawberries and spring flowering bulb plants with 2-4 inches of organic material after cold weather arrives. Choose material that won’t blow away and remove mulch in early spring when the weather starts to warm up.


11. Plant garlic and flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils. I shared directions for planting fall bulbs over at MomItForward a few weeks ago! Check out my Fall Bulbs Planting Guide here!! And YES — I STILL need to get this done!

12. Empty ornamental pots and store inside to avoid cracking.

13. Remove, clean, and repair any cages, baskets, or fencing used in summer garden.

14. Sharpen and clean shovels, hoes, and other gardening tools so they’re ready to go in the spring.

15. Plan garden for the next year! I can’t wait for the seed catalogs to start arriving! If you’re looking for good catalogs to request, check out my list of free catalogs here!

What do you still have to do in your garden? Are you as behind as I am?

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. Great list Michelle! Question on strawberries – we planted just a few plants this year, is covering them with hay good enough for the winter months?

  2. With my tiny urban garden I don’t have to complete quite the list you do but I haven’t completed all my tasks yet. Need to get on that before we’re seeing those -15 degree temps! 🙂

  3. I always have divided my hostas in the spring. Now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t do it now. Some of them are getting huge.

    I would also like to get some more bulbs in but I’m thinking it’s not going to happen this year. But I need to plant my garlic.

  4. Hey, Michelle,
    I just moved back to TX from Apple Valley (Wenatchee) Washington. I only had a 7800 sq foot lot and that included my house. I pulled out all my flower beds in the back yard and had a vegetable garden in the beds..everything I could plant. On the last day before the freeze, I picked 140# of green tomatoes, kept 30, canning, and fried green tomatoes and took the other 110# to the homeless shelter. I probably left another 20-30# on the vine due to size. I wanted to tell you. I know why my garden was so productive was because of the chicken manure from the backyard chicken coop. We were in high desert, so for people down here in TX to say it cannot be done, it not true. I presently live in a 1000 sq foot house (by myself) and have minimal space for a garden, so I will be working on vertical espalier fruit trees along the fence line, and grapes, raspberries and blackberries (maybe). I plan on having a vegetable garden as well. My lot is only around 30-40 feet wide and about 100 feet deep. It will be a challenge, but I have already planted 2 pecan trees and purchased my Niagara grape vine that is doing great already. Wish me luck. It will be interesting to see what I can accomplish. I want 4 backyard chickens, but due to covenants..I don’t know if I’ll be able to swing that. Take care.

  5. Lovely post! It’s our first year (of my husband and me) in gardening, first time we planted vegetables and fruit in the backyard garden of our new house and it’s a first fall season for us in the garden. We have only a basic idea of what should be removed form the garden, and what should stay for the winter season. Your article is very helpful for us, we found the answers we were searching for. Thank you for sharing!