Fall is a perfect time to garden. There’s so much that can be done to get a jump on next spring. Here in my Minnesota zone 4 gardens, it’s getting down to the nitty-gritty of getting all the fall gardening tasks done.
Fall gardening is also the perfect time to practice frugality. Gardening can be an expensive hobby, just ask me. But, it’s entirely possible to garden on the cheap with a little bit of work and creativity. Here are some of my best tips for Fall Gardening tasks that can help you save money and get a jump on next spring’s garden.
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Fall Gardening – Saving Seeds in the Flower Gardens
Here are the seeds I will be gathering from my gardens: hollyhock, foxglove, balloon flower, coneflower, coreopsis, shasta daisy, meadow blazingstar, snapdragons and marigolds. I’m also experimenting with a few others this year. Do you gather seeds? If so, what are your favorite seeds to save?
Steps for Seed Saving:
- Basically wait until the seed pods of the plant are really dried out. Once the seed pods are dried out, I take an envelope and shake the seeds into it. Sometime, it’s necessary to break open the seed pod to release the seeds. Then, very important, make sure to write the name of the plant on the envelope. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had great intentions and did everything right only to forget to mark the envelope. On that note, I have some really cute printable seed packets in my Gardening Resources Library.
- Store your envelopes in a dry place. Photo bins work great for storing seed packets. I usually put a few silica gel packets, that come in pill bottles and tons of other things, in my box of seeds to help with moisture control. I love seeds so much that I have a board on Pinterest called All About Seeds Board on Pinterest.
- Stay tuned and later in the winter and early spring, we’ll talk about winter sowing seeds and seed starting. It really is fun to propagate new plants from seeds you’ve saved from your garden. It’s also a great way to teach gardening to children.
- Here’s a more in depth post All About Collecting Seeds. It gives more tips on gathering, sowing and storing the seeds you’ve collected.
Fall Gardening – Overwintering Tender Bulbs and Tubers
My lucky friends in the south don’t have to do this, but here in my Zone 4 garden it’s a must if I don’t want to buy new bulbs next spring. I’m going to overwinter these bulbs: gladiola, caladium, begonia and dahlia (tubers). Calla lilies and canna lilies are also tender bulbs in zone 4, but I don’t have those in my gardens this year. Again, I’m going to keep it simple. I like to do this before we get a frost just to make sure I get it done, but some gardeners like to wait until the first frost to be sure the plants have gone into dormancy.
Steps for Overwintering Tender Bulbs and Tubers:
- I simply dig up the plant and shake the dirt off. If they are moist at all, I let them dry in the sun a few days.
- After they’ve dried a bit and I’ve rubbed as much dirt off as possible, I cut the foliage down leaving a couple of inches on the top of the bulb.
- And, finally I store the bulbs in a cardboard box (shoe boxes work great) filled with sawdust. If you don’t have sawdust, peat moss or shredded paper work too. I also toss several silica packs in the box to help control moisture. Again, make sure you mark your boxes with the name of the bulb.
- Store your bulbs some place that stays well above freezing. The most important thing in bulb storage is to keep them dry. If they are moist at all, they will rot. Are you going to try overwintering bulbs this year?
Fall Gardening – Overwintering Zonal Geraniums
I’ve had very good success overwintering zonal geraniums. I usually pay anywhere from $3-$4 for one zonal geranium, and I bought a bunch this year. There are a number of different ways you can overwinter zonal geraniums, but I try to keep it really simple and this is the method that’s worked for me.
Steps for Overwintering Zonal Geraniums:
- I simply pull the geraniums (before we get a frost), shake as much dirt off the roots as I can and lay them out on a newspaper in the sun to dry a bit.
- After they’ve dried, I simply gather up a bunch and put them in a paper grocery bag (roots in the bag) and hang the bag in my basement.
- Somewhere around the middle of March, I will pot up the plants in a good potting mix. I then cut back all the dead foliage and give them a good drink of water with a little fertilizer. Then I will put them in a sunny spot or under some grow lights and wait. It’s very gratifying to see those first little bits of green popping out. Give it a try this year and see if it works for you.
Fall is also the perfect time to plan out next year’s gardens. Keep track of this year’s successes and failures, decide which plants need to be relocated and keep notes on everything by keeping a Gardening Journal. I’ve taken the guess work out of garden journaling and created lots of free gardening printables in my Gardening Resources Library. To gain immediate access, simply fill out the form below to become a subscriber to Gingham Gardens.
Here are some great tools and supplies to make your fall gardening tasks go much smoother:
Thanks a bunch for stopping by Gingham Gardens today. I trust you’re walking away with some tips for Fall Gardening and thinking ahead to next spring. In case you missed them, here are some the other posts in my Fall Gardening series: Planting Bulbs for Amazing Spring Flowers, Transitioning Container Gardens to Fall and Tips for Keeping Potted Mums Looking Great. If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below.
Happy gardening, a little while longer…
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