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Dig In! Autumn Gardening Brings A Healthy Spring

Planting bulbs in fall.
iMarzi - stock.adobe.com
Planting bulbs in fall.

As the seasons change from summer to fall, the waning days of summer signal the end of the growing season to many. But fall can be one of the busiest seasons for planting and preparing your garden and yard for the upcoming year.

Every month, the Dig In! series looks at gardening, herbs, and healthy cooking with Venice Williams, the executive director of Alice's Garden. Here are her tips on what to do in the garden this autumn:

Planting for fall

As we cut back perennials and remove some annuals from the garden after their bloom, autumn can be a great time to add color by planting flowers like asters or chrysanthemums. In addition, cool-weather vegetables can be grown this time of year to harvest in autumn, like lettuces, spinach, arugula, or radishes. Adding these vegetables in the fall can be a great way to prepare for next spring's harvest.

Preparing for spring

"You can do some seeding late September, early October... of some of these [cool weather] veggies, and they are going to come up next spring," says Williams. Planting seeds for cool-weather vegetables doesn't just mean a harvest this fall, it also sets up your future garden as some of the seeds will lay dormant until spring.

Gardeners should also start planting spring-blooming ephemerals, like tulips, daffodils, or crocuses. Williams suggests trying native ephemerals like trout lily, bloodroot, snowdrops, or jack-in-the-pulpit.

Making the most of the fall harvest

Even if you're not doing a lot of planting in your garden, you can still capitalize on the fall harvest by buying locally grown produce and savoring it throughout the year. "I stock up on things like acorn squash and some of the other winter squash because then I'll have those all winter long," says Williams. "I store them in my basement in a cool area, and I will be eating from that Wisconsin harvest long into the winter and even into early spring."

Preparing for summer

Fall bulbs should be planted before the first frost in warm soil, but they won't fully pop up until next summer. One example: garlic. "Planting your own garlic is one of the most rewarding things that we can have in our garden. It also teaches us delayed gratification," Williams explains. Instead of using a bulb from the grocery store, Wisconsin gardeners should look for hard-neck garlic and seek out organic bulbs from a garden center.

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
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