As summer gives way to fall it's easy to hunker down indoors and completely forget about our plants and gardens until next spring. But if you want to protect the hard labors you put in this year and prevent having to start completely over next year, there are a few things you still need to do to ensure disease and frost don't get the better of your green pals outside.
1. Rake those leaves! Not raking fallen leaves before the rains, frost and snow arrive can cause disease to take over your lawn and planting beds. Of course the best plan is to compost them.
2. Plant spring bulbs. Anytime between September and December, depending on where you live, as long as the soil is still workable.
3. Weed. Doing a bit of work in the fall will save you extra work in the spring by keeping weeds from getting a head start. As the old saying goes, don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today!
4. Apply a winter mulch to perennials where temperatures fall below -10° fahrenheit. Pine needles, straw or shredded leaves will all work just fine.
5. Plant a cover crop for your vegetable garden. Examples are crimson clover, alfalfa, buckwheat, common vetch, fava beans and others. They are hardy through even harsh Michigan winters and enrich the soil with nitrogen, help keep weeds at bay and can be some wonderful greens for rabbits or other greens-loving pets.