Getting ready for fall

The American Beautyberry tells me that fall will be here in a few weeks, hooray! I'm so ready, and so is my garden.

These are the sort of thoughts that run through my head every year around this time:
  • If I plant corn/tomatoes/squash/cucumbers/snap beans now, can I still get a decent harvest before the first frost? Or should I save these seeds until spring, and plant fall veggies instead?
  • How long can I work in the garden tomorrow, weeding and rejuvenating the garden beds, before the heat becomes unbearable?
  • When is the Big Orange Home Improvement Box Store going to have their annual fall sale of Texas Native Hardwood Mulch, at $2 a bag?
  • What annual (or fall-flowering perennial) should I plant in that bare spot in the front garden?
  • Are the saved seeds in my seed box still good?
Seed-saving box
Every time I look at my seed box, I'm always overwhelmed by the number of seeds I've bought and never planted. I bought most of these seeds last fall and winter.  Two kinds of corn, three sorts of green beans, four varieties of cucumbers, and so on and so forth.

Then Jack and I ran off to Europe for our 10th wedding anniversary in spring, and I didn't plant much of a first-season garden. All the seeds in this photo should still be viable this fall, but there's definitely some old seeds in the seed box that need to go, like the pepper seeds, and some of the tomatoes, and most of the seeds from the Seattle & Portland Garden Bloggers Fling swag bags.

I think I'll plant corn, cucumbers and snap beans now, find a spot for the one tomato plant I bought two weeks ago (which is still sitting outside in its one-gallon plastic pot, slowly drying out), and leave the squash for spring.

When it's as hot and dry as it's been here this summer, I have to break the garden chores up into short manageable tasks, rather than tackling one big marathon session. Last evening, just before dusk, I ran the Heron weeder through this long bed where I planted greens and carrots last year. There weren't many weeds there at all - mostly widow's tears and oxalis - and only two tiny clumps of Bermuda grass, yippee.  One mosquito bit me - not bad! Weeding this one bed only took about 20 minutes.
Weed-free and ready for planting
This morning, I cleared the mostly-dead tomatoes out of the other bed, worked some cottonseed meal into the parched soil in both beds, dampened the soil with rainwater from the big barrel, added some fresh compost to all the beds, and planted my one fall tomato. That took about two hours - not bad! I'll plant my corn, cucumbers and green bean seeds early next week, when I get time.
Lonely fall tomato
When I went to Shoal Creek Nursery to get compost yesterday, I happened upon a 75% sidewalk sale they were having, and picked up three new garden decor pieces - score! - plus a Black and Blue Salvia for $2 that will perk right up with some water and a haircut.
Disappearing fountain
Salvia and metal owl
Hummingbird weathervane
What are you doing in your garden to get ready for fall?

Words and photos © 2009-2017 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. I've been thinking about our next season for a while. I have even started some kale and Swiss chard. But I can't quite pull the tomatoes out yet. Now that is a seed box. Wish I was so organized. Just before you throw those Seattle tomato seeds away, if they were Principe Borghese then they are still viable. I planted some this year!
    What wonderful finds. That disappearing fountain is fabulous and the owl is sure to bring a feathered friend to your owl box if you have one. And what a great weather vane.

    1. That is good to know about the Seattle seeds - I'll hold on to them! I really lucked out on the sale.

  2. I'm with you - sometimes what needs doing in the garden seems overwhelming and you just need to step back and say, "I'm going to do this one thing" and forget about the rest. Oh, I LOVE owls and when they are on sale, even better!

    Around here, it's all about harvesting and clearing out the beds for the winter. The only planting that will be done will be the garlic in's been a rough year, garden wise, so I'm pretty much ready for winter to arrive :)


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