Fall gardening tasks aren’t all double, double toil and trouble — working outside can be a great chance to soak up some sun before the rains return to the Portland area. And all your sweat equity will have big returns in the spring.
Whether you tend a community plot, own property, or grow potted plants in an apartment, these tips and resources will help you stay on top of your to-do list.
Pluck the last round of warm-weather crops like corn and tomatoes, and keep an eye on apples, pears, and fall raspberries. Root vegetables like carrots and beets can be left in the ground and harvested through winter and into spring.
To tidy, or not to tidy
Fallen leaves can be gathered and composted, shredded and spread over beds, or residents can take advantage of PBOT’s free Leaf Day services. Withered veggie plants and annuals can also be added to the composter (as long as they aren’t diseased) — but cut them at their base instead of uprooting them if you follow no-till methods. Or leave them in place through winter to provide shelter and food for wildlife.
Pruning, planting, protecting
It’s not yet time to prune trees, but you can trim perennials using bypass shears.
Trees, shrubs, and perennials can be planted or moved (as long as it doesn’t get really cold really early). So-called “cover crops” like fava beans and certain clovers can be planted to provide food for pollinators during the off-season while improving soil nutrients — but don’t start them too close to your area’s average frost date. Overwintering veggies like garlic and shallots, as well as spring bulbs, can go in the ground now.
Fall is a great time to give the lawn some TLC by over-seeding patchy areas with a spreader and adding lime to boost soil pH. Your gardens will also thank you for a fresh layer of mulch, which prevents soil erosion and compaction, and protects against extreme temperatures.