The chilly mornings we have been enjoying are a welcome reminder that fall is on the way. Here are a few ideas for fall garden maintenance to keep you busy in your yard this month.

Many of our garden crops will soon be harvested and we should clean up the refuse immediately because it can harbor insects and disease organisms. Any diseased or insect-infested plants should either be burned or bagged and taken to the dump. All healthy plant debris can be composted or worded into the soil. Smaller plant material will break down quickly if rocked into the soil, but the larger point material should decompose in a pile away from the garden. If you take care of the plant mat3eial after each crop is fully harvested, it will not be such a huge there a the end of the season.

After plant removal is complete, lightly till your garden plot and work in compost. Fall tillage will help your soil heat up more quickly and accept moisture more easily in the spring. The tilled in compost helps in destroying insect eggs and disease organisms.

Cut back perennial flowers to the ground as soon as the foliage has turned yellow. As long as the plant is still green, it is storing food in the roots for next year. Once the plants have gone dormant, you can divide overgrown perennials such as daisies, daylilies, yarrow and others. Give your garden a boost by top dressing your perennial flower beds with an inch or two of compost after all of your plants have been cut back. This will also help protect the roots from freezing, aid in weed control and naturally leach nutrients into the soil.

“You know you are a real gardener when you think compost is a fascinating subject.” Author unknown.

Some words on weed control

All weeds should be destroyed this fall. Fall germinating weeds such as shepherd’s purse and the mustard plants will sprout from now until snow cover and will go to seed early in the spring. Control of these weeds in the early stages will prevent a lot of work next spring. All the summer weeds now have full seed heads and need to be restored. Do not put these weeds in your compost. There is a risk that you won’t kill all the seeds and would be planting them back into your garden later.