I used to think that once the flowers stopped blooming the garden season was over. Boy, was I wrong! Over the years I have realized that once the plants are done and the frost has stopped their growth, there is still much work to do.
I am beginning that process now. Some plants are still producing, such as okra, peppers, and tomatoes. Zinnias are still blooming. The tithonia is going strong. But many plants are dead and need to be gathered up, such as the very tall sunflower stalks. The marigolds are done, yet the petunias are still growing new leaves and producing red blossoms. Each plant has its own cycle of living and dying.
So one task is to keep picking vegetables and flowers while another task is to pull up dead plants and compost them. I also have to clear the black landscape fabric out of the beds so I will have a fresh start next spring.
It is important to review my garden journal to remind myself of what worked and what didn’t. An instance of that is a note to myself to not plant so much okra next year. I usually plant both green and red okra, but next year I will only plant one variety so I won’t have too much! I have also noticed that where I plant tithonia seeds is important, so I have made notes in my journal that describe which locations in my yard get the most sunlight. This year one location was too shady, so I will plant elsewhere next spring.
Organizing the seed packets that I used this year is an important task. I keep them as a reference for next spring. Also I collect certain seeds and store them, such as the greasy beans. I shell the pods and dry the beans out for next summer, plus I remove the old vine growth on the trellis.
The preparation for the growing season that began last February and lasted several weeks is now happening in reverse as I dismantle the garden beds to prepare for winter. At some point I will organize my many pots and tools and put them away for the winter. I will cut back foliage on some plants like peonies. Later in the fall I will clear the vegetable beds, shown in the photo, and grow a cover crop to enrich the soil. The fall garden chores can take several weeks but the effort is always worth it to prepare for next spring.