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Easy fall gardening tips for beginners

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Basket of apples, walnuts and other fall items

If you are new to gardening, these easy fall gardening tips will have you making the most of your valuable time and your garden space. Suitable for beginners, these straightforward tips cover what you should do in the autumn before you wind down for winter. Surprisingly, it’s not very much work!

Plant bulbs in the fall for easy successful spring flowers

Fall is the ideal time to plant bulbs. Gardening with bulbs is very quick and easy and has a high success rate for beginners. This is because the food for the plant is stored in the bulb itself. Simply follow the planting directions on the bulb packet and look forward to seeing results in spring!

I simply use a small shovel or trowel to dig the holes for bulbs, but if you prefer to make it even easier on yourself you can use this bulb planter tool from Amazon.com. It's won't break the bank and it even includes depth markings on the side so you know how far down you are.

Make sure your climate is suitable for bulbs; distinct seasonal changes are required with a sufficiently cold winter in order for bulbs to flower.

If you want to ensure your yard will have the first flowers of spring, plant crocus bulbs – they flower early but briefly, sometimes starting to poke up through the snow. Along with the crocus, the daffodil and tulip are among the easiest bulbs for beginners to grow.

Take risks and plant any remaining seed you have

Most purchased seed left over from this season won’t be viable by next spring. Why not take a chance now, instead of purchasing new seed next season and wasting all the intervening time? Plant any remaining seed you have in early fall and see what grows. This works best with hardy perennials. I once sowed parsley seed in September; not only did it germinate and grow, but it survived the snow and frost of winter to start really flourishing in spring.

Don’t be surprised if perennials planted at this time refuse to flower before winter, but if they survive the winter they will flower next season as normal – and you’ll get a head start on your garden. Beginners willing to take a chance should try this.

The only time not to take the admittedly risky approach of planting leftover seed is if you will be instead using your land for fall crops – in that case the fall crops should take precedence (see below for more details).

Plant fall crops

The fall crops listed here are especially suitable for beginners to try. These easy to grow vegetables will work in a climate with cooling fall temperatures followed by a winter with occasional snow. All of these fall vegetables will need a certain level of warmth to germinate, so sow seeds when temperatures are still fairly warm – well before the first frost.

If you're a beginner, you may find it fastest and easiest to grow these from nursery plants instead of from seed. But be aware if you go that route you'll be at the mercy of your local nursery's choices, so they may not have the plants you want.

To sum up, planting from seed allows you the most choice of what to plant and is the cheapest option, but takes the longest for your produce to grow, so your plants may not grow in time. Planting from local nursery plants is more expensive and you may not be able to get the items you want, but the ones you grow will be ready for harvest sooner.

  • Lettuce – a cool weather plant but will not survive the frost. Plant in early fall.
  • Snap peas and snow peas – some varieties are frost-tolerant but even these still need to be planted while temperatures are warm.
  • Carrots – will survive cold frosty conditions. Plant in fall for December harvest.
  • Parsnips -are slow to germinate but may be harvested as far ahead as late winter or early spring.

If your winters are mild (i.e. if you usually don’t get snow) you may find there are a wider variety of autumn vegetables available to you even as a beginner – in that case try planting anything you would normally plant in early spring.

Other easy but necessary fall gardening tasks for beginners

  1. Deadhead perennials. Removing wilted flowers increases subsequent flowering
  2. Add nutrients to your garden by adding a layer of compost over it
  3. Mulch dead leaves by mowing over fallen leaves on your lawn; this will add nutrients to your lawn. If you have too much, put a layer mulched of leaves on top of your produce garden or flowerbeds
  4. Remember to disconnect the hose from the outside faucet before the first frost

Gardening motto for the fall

“Time is of the essence” is the motto for anyone gardening in the fall. With the temperatures dropping rapidly, less and less will grow in your garden unless it is an already established plant. Concern yourself more about getting it done, and less about getting it done perfectly.


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