Fall Chores

Tuck in your garden for a long winter nap.

| October/November 2001


The herb-gardening season is drawing to a close. Twilight settles in earlier every evening, and the sun’s rays are shorter and cooler. This blazing summer brought its woes and its wonders, as always. The grasshoppers chomped unhindered by the biological control I spread about to keep their numbers down, and heat-loving weeds put up a fiercer fight than usual. On the up side, the lady’s-mantle was never more beautiful, and my new Echinacea purpurea ‘Kim’s Knee High’, a true dwarf, proved as tough and beautiful as its taller cousins.

Now, however, my herbs and I feel weary. The heavy chores—digging, hauling, turning compost, countless forays from nursery to garden—are finished. The herbs shot up, bloomed, and now give way to tired, blotchy leaves and drying seed heads.

For me, work remains to be done, but autumn’s chores can be done at a more leisurely pace than spring’s. Like the herb garden itself, garden work tapers off in autumn, when the garden gets ready for a long, peaceful winter nap, and I get a rest.

Know your frost date 

Frost happens! Be prepared by knowing the average frost date for your area and attending to reports of the cold fronts that will further slow your herb garden. Although the frost date gives only a historical average date of killing frosts, knowing it gives you a working timeframe for tucking in your garden. If you don’t know your area’s frost date, call your county’s Cooperative Extension Service for the information, as it varies quite a bit from one locale to another.

First steps toward winter 

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