FALL GARDEN CHECK LIST – Shutting Down The Garden

FALL GARDEN CHECK LIST – Shutting Down The Garden

If you would like a copy of this  “Check List” (PDF) simple email us at: lynn@WisconsinGarden.com

Just enter “Fall Garden Check List” in the subject line.

  1. How Did Your Garden Grow This Year?

Success and/or failures of this year’s garden experience?

Our successes includes this year’s Zinnias, Grapes, Climbing Spinach, Garlic, Tomatoes (TomatoBerry) Straw bales, Square foot garden, stepping stones, Tri-color European Beech tree, reclaiming Iris beds, Strawberry beds, Dahlia bulbs, compost bin, Better-Bilt trellis, use of raised beds (27) Plant selection & rotation & painted red trellis & picnic table. Use of Azomite, Compost, Peat Moss, Perlite/Vermiculite, (prolonged heat & humidity factor) powdery mildew Bird seed buildup, sunflowers, Milorganite, Native Prairie – Compass plant, Moss Garden, garden tours.


  1. Collecting Seeds & Deadheading Plants

Consider harvesting Heirloom plant seeds on a dry not overly windy day – Deadheading.

IMPORTANT Label each different seed collection. Make additional notes as to where collected and date.

Store in either a plastic bag or glass container and keep them in a cool dry place over winter.

Saving Tomato Seeds – soak in water 24 hours, good seeds settle to bottom – rinse 3 times dry on paper towel.

Perennials seeds require ‘Stratification’ cold-treated in order to germinate (tree peony).


  1. What Can We Still Grow This Fall?

Plant lettuce, radishes – mature in 28 days – Start Herbs indoors in pots.

Cuttings from favorite annuals for next year (Coleus).

Pinch off new tomato & squash blossoms – encourages vegetables to mature existing plant fruit.

Look for bargains, year-end perennial plant sales – Still time for roots to establish – Keep pulling weeds.


  1. Food Preservation – Canning & Dehydrating

Consider canning, freezing, dehydrating healthy home-grown food. Take advantage of seasonal bargains.

Ripen green tomatoes that are firm and blemish-free, wrap individually in newspaper.

Keep apples in paper bags – keep in cool, dry place for longer shelf life – ethylene gas quickens ripening/wilt.

Storing Winter Squash – Butternut, Spaghetti, Pumpkin – Keep 2” stem.

Cure in warm place 1-2 weeks (skin) then keep in cool area 55-65 degrees over winter.


  1. Garden Clean Up – Garden Health

Vegetable Garden Arearemove all plants and clean up all plant debris on ground.

Cut back Asparagus – remove old Raspberry-Blackberry canes (this year’s producers) grape vines.

Pick up and remove all old unwanted fruit or debris on the ground.

Rake up and remove seeds and other debris under bird feeders, clean birdhouses & feeders.

Continue pulling weeds before they go to seed – Deadheading.

Drain rain barrels, address large containers, walkways, pond clean up, fish catching or relocation, etc.


  1. Composting – Garden Gold

Add or Start a compost pile – disease-free weeds, vegetable & flowering plants, (Brown & Green).

Kitchen wastes – vegetables, fruit, cardboardDO NOT ADD meat, dairy or greasy food leftovers.

Recycle – If local recycling isn’t available – burn or dig a deep hole in far corner and bury bad plants.

Compost in covered garbage can, add soil layers to limit odor and discourage varmints.

Keep chopped leaves & grass clippings separate – dedicate for weed-free Spring planting.


  1. Mulching – Grass Leaves & Bark

Grass clippings & chopped leaf mulch, wood mulch (not right up to the base of the plant).

Consider posting a yard sign requesting “Bagged Leaves & Grass Clippings Wanted”.

Buy Straw before Halloween – After ‘Hard Freeze’ mulch (strawberries, garlic, leeks, shallots, etc.).


  1. Timely Pruning & Trimming

Light pruning and removal of diseased, damaged, dead, decaying or rubbing branches – OK any time of year.

Limit pruning in Fall – Decay fungus much more active in fall, wounds heal more slowly.

Late Winter/Early Spring – best time to prune dormant plants, see overall structure, fungus/insects dormant.

Late Winter – Prune Oak & Fruit & Nut Trees after coldest weather has passed.

Avoid Winter/Early Spring pruning of lilac, Forsythia, Hibiscus or other Spring flowering bushes.

Fall & Late Fall – continue watering trees and bushes.

Protect and wrap young trees & bushes (deer, rabbits, voles, etc.) Wire fencing – height as needed.

Trim back perennials – Consider leaving untrimmed – creates insulation, leaf & snow cover – seeds for birds.

Clean up all ground debris – don’t want to invite unwanted diseases or pests – recycle and/or compost.


  1. Bulb Planting – Fall & Spring

Tender Bulbs: Dig up all Elephant Ears, Calla & Canna Lilies, Caladiums, etc. (let bulbs dry thoroughly).

Hang in breathable mesh bags – keep in cool dark place: Dahlias packed in sawdust, packing peanuts, peat.

Plant Garlic – October-German Hardneck – prepare bed add worm casting, compost, peat moss, vermiculite.

Plant each clove 2” deep and 4” apart – top with mulch (leaf, grass clippings) after thoroughly watering.

WARNING: Visiting Gary Indiana? – Against the law to eat garlic and then go to the movies.

Begin planting Spring Bulbs – (Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus – add rock phosphate not bone meal (attracts Skunks).


  1. Tools & Tillers

Clean and sharpen hand & large tools – sterilize with alcohol, spray metal parts with lubricant.

Extend the life of wood handles with warm linseed oil or tool handles in rubber coated liquid dip.

Clean lawnmower, sharpen blade, spray moving parts with lubricant (Tillers, Chippers, Hedge Trimmers, etc.).

Empty gas tank of all power equipment or add ‘Stabile Additive’ per directions.

In Spring change, oil, plugs, air filter and sharpen and/or replace mower blades as needed.

Prepare, Start and/or Service your Snow Blower Now (fresh gas, change oil, new spark plug, & air filter, etc.).


11. Spring Planning

Create a plan of this year’s garden from memory.

Check out garden center for great bargains and huge discounts.

Begin preparing your soil for Spring.

Cover Crops for large gardens – Buckwheat, Cowpeas, Soybeans.

Sow in early fall, till under in Spring.

Compost – aged manure.

Create a plan for next year’s garden – favorites and new possibilities – Request Spring catalogs mailing list.


Obviously, those of you who live in warmer climate zones have more options in prolonging and even having a year-round garden opportunity to rotate and replant. But here in Wisconsin we face the reality that this year’s garden is coming to a close and requires our attention in shutting various parts down until next spring.