Fall is upon us! That means all things apples, pumpkin, and warm spices. But before you cozy up, it might be a good idea to wrap up your summer garden and prepare for colder weather ahead.
Here are 5 tips for fall gardening and prepping your yard for next year, (plus a bonus apple pie recipe to get you into the harvest spirit!
Tip 1: Tie up any loose ends in your garden.
This might mean pulling spent annuals if you haven’t removed them already. This also includes weeding and cleaning anything that you may have put off during those hot summer days! And finally, dead head your perennials, but maybe leave a few — especially echinacea that provide great winter homes for insects!
Tip 2: Focus on your soil!
With old growth out of the way, and less sun for weeds, this is a wonderful time of year to give your soil some love. Amending the soil is a good way to ensure your spring plantings will be strong and vibrant and that your garden will properly hold water. Whether you have a vegetable garden or a flower patch, fall is the optimal time to add compost around your plants. Just rake the soil and add a nice 3-4 inch layer of compost. The ground has retained the heat of summer and this will activate the nutrients in the compost for the microbes and decomposers to utilize.
Tip 3: Mulch!
Mulch is our friend, and the perfect way to tuck trees and perennials in for the colder months. Adding mulch is like adding a layer of insulation and will help keep the root systems warm while the temperatures drop. Not only does mulch protect the roots, but it also discourages weeds in the spring. For trees, you can add a thick layer of raw mulch. Depending on your region, 3 to 4 inches will work, but 5 to 6 inches won’t hurt either. For your veggie or flower garden, 2 to 3 inches is recommended, and opt for a mulch or composted wood chips instead of using fresh chips.
Tip 4: Start planning (and planting) for next year
Planting flower and garlic bulbs in fall will extend your gardening season and also ensure you have fresh shoots at the first sign of spring. There are so many bulb flower varieties to liven up you spring landscape. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and amaryllis are beautiful options. Onion, garlic, and allium will provide visual appeal and a pleasant aroma. Plant your bulbs about 2 inches deep and around 3 inches apart for a full effect. Always plant the bulb root side down and don’t forget to label where you planted so you don’t forget in a few months!
Tip 5: Prune before it gets too cold
After you harvest, asses your trees and decide if pruning is a good choice. Are there lots of branches that have grown perpendicular or point inward toward the tree trunk? Have suckers spouted at the base? Are there any dead branches? Tidying these up will help promote more growth, create a healthier tree and ensure a bountiful harvest next season. Pruning in late fall or mid winter is safe, however you will want to wait until the temperatures have dropped so that you can be sure the tree is fully dormant and without any leaves.
After that hard work in the garden all spring and summer, it’s time to follow along with nature and settle in for a few months of rest before we start all over again!
BONUS! For those of us who like to garden as much as we like to enjoy the fruits of our summer labours, here is a delicious apple pie recipe to kick off your indoor Fall festivities.
For the Crust:
- 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter – cold
- 1 2/3 cups of pastry flour (leave about 2 tablespoons out for rolling it out the dough)
- 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- 3 oz of cream cheese cold
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of ice water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar
For the Filling:
- 6 large apples
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon of clove
- (Or substitute all spices for 1 1/2 teaspoons of apple pie spice)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons of butter
Egg Wash (optional)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of milk
Cut the butter into small cubes and set in freezer to harden for 30 minutes. Cut the cream cheese into small cubes and set in refrigerator to cool.
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add in cool cream cheese and mix until just combined, less than a minute. Add frozen butter in paces and pulse until the butter is broken down but still in large pieces. Add ice water and vinegar to the mixture. Mix until most of the butter is the size of a pea.
Lay out mixture on a clean surface and pull together the dough to form one large flattened disc and smaller disc that will be latter used for the lattice. No need to knead it yet! Wrap the disc in plastic and place in the freezer for an hour or overnight.
Peel and cut the apples into cubes or small wedges. Combine the apples in a bowl with lemon, flour, cornstarch, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt and spices.
On a well-floured surface, with a well-floured rolling pin, roll out the large disc. Transfer to a pie pan and press the bottom and crimp the edges.
Fill the pastry lined pie pan with the apple mixture
If you still have energy, roll out the smaller disc into a long oval strip. Cut as many strips as you would like and lay them across your filled pie. This can be rustic or neat. Add the egg wash to the lattice, this is optional.
Preheat oven the 375. Bake for 50-60 minutes of until the apple filling is tender and the crust is golden brown!
Pro Tip: Place the pie in the middle rack. And if during baking you find that the crust is getting too dark you can add foil around the edges.