Without a doubt, I love autumn in Northern Ohio. The milder temperatures are perfect for working outside all day, so fall garden chores can be done when I’m feeling like it as opposed to when the weather is suitable. It’s also the end of the vegetable gardening season in my zone 5 garden. There’s still plenty of veggies to harvest, which makes meal planning easier.
The Autumn Garden Calls
One thing I wish I could change is the exact end of vegetable gardening season. It’s never the same. Some years, we receive a killing frost as early as mid-September, other years it comes in late October or even November. As we enter the autumn season, carefully watching the weather forecast becomes one of those unexpected fall garden chores I find myself doing.
Whenever the call to action comes, I’m always armed and ready to protect my autumn garden. Like a knight with an army of worn out blankets and bed sheets, I descend upon the vegetable patch. Covering and tucking linen in and around my plants, I take care in ensuring no warmth-leaking holes exist.
If a heavier frost is in the forecast, I pick all the ripe and nearly mature veggies before covering my plants. Picking things in the garden is one of the fall garden chores I don’t mind doing. When I’m done, there’s always numerous immature fruit which need protected.
Fortunately, most of our early frosts are fairly light and are often followed by several more weeks of moderate temperatures. So blanketing my autumn garden can easily add another month or so to the growing season. This gives those immature peppers and tomatoes plenty of time to ripen and change color.
Some years, an early cold front strikes the autumn garden. No amount of sheets and blankets can protect tender annual crops from a freeze. Whenever this happens, it marks the end of the vegetable gardening season in our area. And now it’s time for fall cleanup in the veggie garden.
The fall garden cleanup is almost a transcendental experience for me. As I rip out massive amounts of dead plant material, I can’t help but think back to a few short months earlier. It seems like yesterday when I dumped the contents of those seed packets into the palm of my hand and pressed those tiny seeds into water-soaked coir pellets.