The cooler fall temperatures may tempt you to stay in the house, but this is the perfect time to accomplish some headway with your organic vegetable, lawn, and landscape gardening. Many gardening tasks can be accomplished before you hang your hat and shears up for the winter.
Here’s a list of the tasks you need to do before the cold Iowa winter arrives.
We’re quickly approaching the deadline for renovating or overseeding your lawn, especially for those who have cool-season turf such as fescue or bluegrass. If you’re doing a last-minute lawn overhaul, bring your lawn to a pH level of 6.0 to 6.5.
Perform a soil test before you start so you have a projection of what nutrients your soil needs. A soil test will also give you insight as to how much of each nutrient is needed.
Since soil reports can take some time to return, however, you may have already missed your window. There’s also the matter of frost. As the season continues, the chances of the first Iowa frost setting in significantly increase.
If you’re going to proceed with your lawn overhaul, seed now and add the required nutrients when the report comes back. You should also do the following:
- Water your lawn regularly
- Keep the grass seed moist
- Water several times a day until germination
This process will be tricky if you have trees in your yard as the leaves can disturb the seed. Be open to saving this project for next summer or fall.
Have you cleaned up your summer garden? Now that the days are shorter it’s important to clear away all the dead matter that can attract pests and diseases. Remove old plant debris and place it into your compost pile (as long as it’s not diseased) so it can contribute to next year’s organic vegetable garden.
If the old plant debris in your garden is diseased, have it removed from your property.
By now, your cool-season veggies should be in full swing. The following vegetables are excellent candidates for Iowa fall gardens:
Don’t be afraid to continue to grow hardy vegetables well after the first two or three frosts as that has a tendency to enhance their flavor.
Do you need to plant some new trees or shrubs on your property? Fall is the best time to do it! The soil is still warm enough for the roots to grow yet the cooler temperatures mean the foliage isn’t pressured to grow.
By planting trees and shrubs now, you’re giving them time to develop a healthy root system before the heat and humidity of Iowa summers kick in.
You should also do the following to keep your landscape in tip-top shape:
- Keep your new plants watered
- Check the soil moisture often
- Water your lawn when needed
- Water new plantings at least once per week when there’s no rain
Is your lawn full of fallen leaves? Don’t waste them! Once the kids have raked the lawn and bagged up some leaves in two or three jack-o-lantern bags, dump the rest onto your grass and run your mower over them. They’ll break down quickly and add some organic goodness to your beds.