The one redeeming thing about the end of the growing season is that it is the end. If your harvests were banner or bupkis, Next Year remains perfect–and perfectly successful–due mainly to your experiences with this current one.
So, onward, planning.
Should I remind you again that now’s the best time to make garden beds? (I am such a nag, I know…that, and I am prone to ignoring my own advice.) The winter’s freeze/thaw action will sweeten that soil, erasing some of the damage that making the beds does to soil structure. (Tip: feeding those soil creatures with lots of compost then tucking them in under a thick bed of mulch will make the new soil quite a hospitable place to the microorganisms, worms and insects that help make soil fertile. Feed them to feed yourself.) You can also save yourself some shoveling by doing a lasagna bed: atop a patch of lawn, put down cardboard or newspaper, rake on some leaves, grass clippings; throw down some compost and maybe a touch of soil to hold the whole thing down…next spring you can plant in it.
Also, now’s the time when many garden supply stores are trying to unload unsold products, like fruit trees. One of the biggest obstacles to the success of young fruit trees and fruiting bushes is inattentive watering during their first year: when getting established, the trees require weekly waterings…something a forgetful gardener might miss if she’s planted her trees in the spring (trust me here). Planting them in the fall is actually easier. Trees quickly become dormant, and fall/winter/spring precipitation will eliminate most of the need to water.
We’ve recently had a prolonged Indian Summer with its deep blue, perfectly clear skies and wonderful exuberant colors on the remaining leaves. The leaves literally rain down: all windows being wide open, we hear them pinging the house’s metal roofs ticktocktick. We wait for them all to fall, perhaps not quite so patiently, before we do the last lawn mowing. This one is the best for the compost pile: so many mulched-up leaves, so much long grass, so few weed seeds. It’s a great garden mulch too…and even those new trees could use a touch of the stuff.
I like the pace of the garden in the fall; I like fall clean-up. There’s something satisfying about knowing I don’t need to weed for the next few months ahead…that, and my spring garden still looks perfect….