Gardening Basics

How To Prepare Your Lawn and Garden For Fall

Gardening expert Paul James offers advice on fertilizing, seeding and planting.

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Start turnips about six weeks before the first hard freeze. The greens will be ready to eat in about 30 days.

Maintain the landscape. This is the time to tidy up a bit, removing unsightly foliage, dried stems and similar debris. It's also a good time to fluff your mulch with a steel rake to allow water to penetrate deep into the subsoil.

While you're messing around with the landscape, you can also fill it out with new plants. Trees, shrubs and various perennials —  especially those that give seasonal color such as mums, asters and pansies — are some good options. You could even tackle a cool-season vegetable garden consisting of lettuce and other greens, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips and even potatoes.

As you take care of your landscape, use as much of your compost as you can, spreading it in flower beds and at the base of trees and shrubs. That way you'll have plenty of room in your pile or bins for all the leaves that will soon fall.

A note of caution: Resist the urge to prune, because the tender new growth that would result may not have a chance to harden off sufficiently before cold weather arrives, and that can lead to damage.

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