Gardening isn’t the easiest thing for many people – not everyone can have a green thumb, after all. Planting in the fall can be especially challenging, since you have to carefully time your planting cycles and be aware of changes in fall temperatures. However, there are a number of things you can do to make your garden sustainable and productive, even in an urban environment.
Make Use of Fall Leaves
Raking the ever-present brown and gold leaves of fall seems like an unending chore during the fall. Raking them into piles and throwing them in bags can be a pain in the neck, but leaves can be a valuable resource for many gardeners. If you don’t compost, fall leaves can be a great source of starting material for a compost pile or you can make leaf mold, which is a great soil amendment for spring vegetable gardens. If you have a lot of leaves, you can hold on to them until spring or summer, when brown compost materials can be hard to come by.
Plant In the Fall
For many people, fall is thought of as a time for harvesting and hoarding, not for growing. However, it can be an important planting season, allowing you to get a big head start on crops to be harvested in late spring or summer. Lettuces and hardy greens like kale and spinach can be grown and harvested throughout the winter, but plants like garlic and shallots can be planted a month before a freeze to get a jump on spring growth. Beans and peas can also be great fall and winter harvests.
Make a Plan and Rotate Your Crops
It’s important to understand how your garden and crops work with each other to have healthy crops. It can be tough to plan, especially for amateur gardeners, but we recommend working on a multi-year growing plan. Know what you want to grow and in what areas of your garden. If you’re in an urban environment, you’ll want to check and control your soil to make sure you have optimal growing conditions. We recommend using a soil conditioner like our Soil20 to manage watering schedules if you have limited time, and always check the acidity of your soil before you plant new crops after a harvest.
Even if you don’t use your fall leaves, compost should be a routine addition to every garden. If you’re new to composting, you’ll want a mix of organic material like grass clippings or food scraps, as well as brown materials like shredded newspaper or dead leaves. Composting creates a nutrient-rich soil additive that can boost your garden output. Winter temperatures can put a dent in the composting process, but you can build your compost pile even during the cold. Expand your compost pile, keep it covered and make sure it has as much direct sunlight as possible.
Gardening containers are pretty vital for urban gardening, but they can be an important addition even for gardeners who have a full garden. The classic clay pot can be great for certain plants, and especially herbs, but there are a lot of other options for more serious growing. Almost anything will grow in containers with proper soil and care, but they’ll need about a foot of soil for full growth. Although it’s easy to make them grow, it’s even easier to kill a plant through extra care. Overwatering is the most common way to kill a plant, so let soil dry properly and make sure your container can drain as necessary.