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Say Goodbye to summer; and welcome cool-weather crops into your veggie garden. 

When we think of fall, we think of planting greens and an herb garden for fresh salads. But, before you start planting your fall vegetable garden, learn your area's first frost date (see Plant Hardiness Zone Map of the USDA). This way you can plan when to move your flowers to a cold frame or cover them with blankets.

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Here are other Fall Season Clean-Up To-Do's: 

Clean and Protect Trees

Keep tree branches and shrubs trimmed away from your home to avoid fallen tree limbs. Keep branches 5 to 7 feet away from your home to discourage small animals, such as squirrels, chipmunks or raccoons from exploring your attic.

When it comes to trimming trees, use a sharp pair of pruning shears to cut back dead ends on flowers to avoid plant disease. Cut back on fruit vines - grapes, blackberries, raspberries, etc. To protect your strawberries from frost, cover them with straw or create a warm barrier so they come back next year.

Tree protection should not be neglected in the fall. Deer damage on trees occurs in September and October as bucks attempt to shed the dried-velvet from their antlers in preparation for the rut season. This will cause unsightly looking trees and damage to tree bark. To protect young trees, consider wrapping tree guards to protect the bark and root systems. 

Fertilize, Kill Weeds on Landscapes

October and November are good months to do landscaping work. Keep on mowing and fertilize the soil for future growth. Reinforce weed control by pulling weeds by hand or spraying weeds with weed killer. Lastly, rake fallen leaves and set them in lawn bags.

Tick Disease Prevention

Be sure to keep leaves and firewood away from the home, as ticks may be hiding underneath seeking warmth. Remember, ticks do not die in the cooler months, but instead, become dormant. Although ticks are most active in the spring and summer months while it's hot, they are still highly visible in the fall season and are spotted along hiking trails and in parks. Keep your eyes open and be sure to carry tick removal tools with you, if you plan to stay outside for long periods of time [and always do a thorough tick check when finishing outdoor activities].

Plants To Grow In Fall

Vegetable gardeners can enjoy an abundance of crops including radishes, arugula, mustard, spinach and turnips. Start sowing seeds in September for best results.

Start planting the following vegetables in late summer for fall harvest:

  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Leeks
  • Collards
  • Brussels Sprouts

apple-1873078-1920.jpgThese hardy plants can handle light frost and survive below-freezing temperatures; and can be planted as late as December in Zones 8-10. And, if left in the ground, these veggies can kill off harmful pests such as nuisance wireworms!

Fruit growers will need to watch for first frosts that can potentially damage fruit trees. Apple harvest season in the Mid-Atlantic states lasts from August to December and peaks in October. Many orchards in the mountainous states carry a variety of apples during this time period. 

Deer Management Strategies This Fall

Once the weather becomes visibly cooler, white-tailed deer know that their free-loading eating in gardens is coming to an end; which is why they will eat up anything they see in gardens. To protect vegetable gardens this fall, gardeners need to act on deer resistance techniques.

Installing yard fence is the best defense to save veggies from deer damage this autumn. Not only will a deer fence intimidate deer, but it will dismay rabbits and small garden critters knowing they cannot get pass the animal fence. While deer repellents are cheaper than fencing, they require more maintenance and care on lawns especially after heavy rains or extreme heat exposure. This is why it's best to go with a reliable deer control solution: deer fencing. 

With this Fall Garden Clean-Up List, you are ready to enjoy your cool-season crops without disturbance from wildlife or the weather elements.