Some tips for fall gardening

Farm Forum

Fall is a great time of the year for gardeners. I really enjoy working in the yard and garden with the cooler fall temperatures and fall color that is apparent on so many different plants. Fall is also time to harvest the remaining fall vegetable crops like pumpkins, squash, potatoes, carrots, onions and other root crops, and the remaining cole crops like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi. If you still have tomatoes and peppers to harvest, harvest what you can if a freeze is predicted. Remember that mature green tomatoes can be harvested and allowed to ripen off the vine. Most of our tree fruits are harvested in the fall too, like our late season apples and pears, and also the everbearing or primo-cane fruiting raspberries.

Likewise, many of our garden perennial flowers can have wonderful fall color, providing it doesn’t freeze too hard too early. Some of my favorite perennials for fall color include pigsqueek (Bergenia cordifolia), cranesbill geraniums (Geranium sanguinea), blue star (Amsonia), giant tickseed (Coreopsis tripteris). Chinese silver grass (Miscanthus) and of course all of the fall blooming plants like mums and asters.

So please take some time to get out and enjoy the beauty and cooler temperatures of fall. Here on the Great Plains you just never know when the wonderful fall weather can make a change and turn to winter. Certainly the folks that live in the Black Hills can attest to that after the horrendous blizzards during the first part of October.

Fall Needle Drop in


Normally when we think of raking leaves in the fall, it is the leaves of our deciduous trees that we are dealing with. But, if you look closely, you will see that many of our evergreens, will drop needles in the fall too, it just that the needles on most of these trees and shrubs stay on the plant longer than a single growing season. Larch trees are one of the exceptions, in that they drop their needles each fall. Most arborvitae keep their needles for two years, pines until the autumn of the third year, while most spruce trees drop their five year old needles in the fall. Home owners are sometimes alarmed when they see needles turning yellow and dropping on their pines and other evergreen trees, but it is a normal occurrence. You should see the needles dropping from the inside of the tree, where the oldest needles are, while the needles on the outer parts of the tree, on the younger twigs and branches, remain for the next year. If you see entire branches losing their needles, this could be caused by shading of lower branches, a disease, insect damage or other mechanical damage to the branches or main trunk. Trees that develop fall color much earlier than they should could be suffering from some sort of stress.

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