150 Tips: Fall Gardening Advice

By late September, many northern gardeners are enjoying the fruits of their labors and maybe feeling a little sad that the gardening season will not last much longer. But why not make the most of it and set yourself up for next year’s beauty. Here’s some of the fall gardening advice from the MSHS archives.

Plan and plant in fall. In fall, gardeners will remember what worked and what didn’t in the season, so now is a great time to plan and plant, Gail Brown Hudson recommended in a 202 article in Northern Gardener. Trees settle in well after fall planting. For planning purposes, take pictures of your garden now to decide where you need to make changes the next year.

gourds and houseplant

Gourds are fun to grow and make attractive fall decor.

Prepare gourds from your garden into seasonal home décor. Take inspiration from the 1960s and try out this project from the October 1964 Minnesota Horticulturist. Keep the gourds on the vine as long as possible to let them fully color as they mature. Then, using a sharp knife or pruning shears, cut from the vine, leaving two to three inches of stem. Wash the fruits with soapy water and rinse, then lay onto several layers of newspaper in a warm, dry spot. Leave the gourds here for about a week; this curing process allows any moisture to evaporate, the skin to harden, and color to set. Rotate frequently during this time to ensure uniform drying. Wipe clean and place in a warm, dry, and dark room for three to four more weeks to complete curing. Once this process is complete, you can use fine steel wool or a pumice stone to rub down rough spots. Finish by applying a water wax or varnish to give the gourds a gloss, and polish with a soft cloth. The gourds make a fun fall display.

Dig up your parsley and chives from your garden and grow as houseplants during the winter. You’d be surprised how many plants will make it through a Minnesota winter indoors. In a 1974 articel, Orrin Turnquist recommended bringing herbs inside. Make sure to include a considerable portion of the plants’ root systems with soil when repotting, and remove several of the outer leaves of parsley.

Plant bulbs! Late September and October are the traditional time to plant spring-blooming bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips. In The Good Gardener books published by the hort society in 1991, Fred Glasoe suggested digging a trench or large oval to plant a mass of bulbs rather than individual holes. The larger space is more efficient and lets you create a nice design with the bulbs. He added bone meal to the soil at the bottom of the trench.

Most of all, enjoy the lovely light and mild temperatures of late September. It won’t last for long.


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  1. Dianna Dunn on September 25, 2022 at 3:34 am

    I love using gourds abs pumpkins in my large window box ( 2.5 ft deep by 22 ft long) with Mums. But every year the squirrels destroy them in one week. Any suggestions would be spore us tec.

    • Jennifer on September 25, 2022 at 4:49 pm

      Hi Diana! You can try mixing 1 or 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper with either water or petroleum jelly and brushing it onto your gourds. Petroleum jelly lasts longer but water is a little easier to use. You’ll have to re-apply after rain. As for the mums, squirrels love freshly-dug soil. Consider putting a chicken wire cage over the window box for the first week or so to let the soil settle in and lose that “fresh soil” smell. My fellow MG Teresa Rooney also swears by brewing a kettle of chamomile tea, letting it cool, then pouring it onto newly-planted container plants. (I’ve never tried this but I really ought to!)

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