Essential Fall Garden Tips

Avis Licht is a landscape gardener, educator, and author of the wonderful book, The Spring Garden Made Easy. Her passion is to create beautiful gardens that incorporate edibles that can be harvested year round. With the arrival of fall, I asked Avis to share some of her pearls of wisdom for the fall garden.

Below is her response …

As fall approaches we get conflicting messages from the weather. One says, “It’s still summer and hot and the garden is growing like mad.” The other is, “Nights are cool, the days keep getting shorter, and winter must be getting close.” We’re pulled in both directions: ACTION! and Hybernation zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Which one is right? Well, both are true and it’s time to get your garden ready for colder weather and put it to sleep. Both the garden and the gardener are restored by the rest imposed on us by winter.

What does it mean to put your garden to rest? For your perennial flowers and vegetables, it means to cut them to the ground, remove any diseased foliage, and mulch them. Their roots will continue to grow and store energy for the next season. For your fruit trees, it means picking up fallen fruit so that unwanted critters won’t establish themselves in the trees. Rake and clean up underneath the trees and mulch with compost.

For your vegetable garden, it means when a crop is finished you will either replant the area with cool weather crops or plant it with a cover crop that protects the soil surface and improves the soil fertility. Cover crops include nitrogen fixers like fava beans, bell beans, and vetch. These plants actually take nitrogen out of the air and put it into the soil. With the right plants, we can restore vitality and fertility into the soil.

Those of us in temperate climates have the opportunity to grow cool weather crops that will grow over winter. These include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, chard, kale, spinach, lettuce, beets, carrots, peas, and garlic. These plants not only can withstand some frost, they even taste better with the cold weather!

To learn more about your specific climate and growing zone, talk to neighbors who garden, go to your local nursery to see what plants they have. The internet has a wealth of information. Sifting out what you need to know can seem daunting, but it’s worth the effort. In my blog, Edible Landscaping Made Easy, I write about all aspects of landscaping, and you can find lots of information on plants, soil, growing zones, and more.

During the long winter evenings you can start daydreaming about your ideal garden, and come spring, be ready to dig in!
See how Avis has incorporated edibles throughout her garden:

The main image above shows Avis’ front garden with herbs, strawberries, sunflowers, and flowers to attract hummingbirds and bees.

Backyard garden converted to herbs and fruit trees

Fava beans for cover crops

Strawberries and artichokes in back garden

Lettuce, a great fall and winter plant!

Butternut squash, growing up the stairs, getting ready to leap into the pot!

Here is the squash trained to grow up the stairs.

Avis Licht has been teaching and installing beautiful edible landscapes in California since 1978. She is the co-founder of Commonweal Garden in Bolinas, California, an organic farm and permaculture-teaching and holds a B.S. in Conservation of Natural Resources from U.C. Berkeley. She was co-author of the Feasibility Study for the Organic Farm and Garden of the College of Marin, which is now a major teaching center. She lives in Marin County and has designed hundreds of beautiful edible landscapes. After 35 years of gardening and designing gardens, she now shares her experiences in her own delightful and informative blog.

Follow Avisís Blog: Edible Landscaping Made Easy Avis’s acclaimed new book, The Spring Garden Made Easy, covers all aspects of starting a vegetable garden – a wonderful read filled with valuable gems for any garden lover!


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Judy Apelis
Judy Apelis2 years ago

Thank you.

Tanya W.
Tanya W.2 years ago

Beautiful thanks.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you Erica, for Sharing this!

Mary B.
Mary B.2 years ago

I love those squash plants trained to grow up the stairs. Be fun to try it with sugar baby melons too.

heather g.
heather g.2 years ago

I'm always amused how people I share a garden space with, attack their plants in Sept/October and aggressively pull everything out. I continue to enjoy my produce for a further few months.

One avid gardener had ordered me to only water plants by watering the soil. She became fairly annoyed when she had to give this order a 2nd time. We live in an area which has a very high rainfall of 2400mm a year - so I wondered if she managed to control the rainfall and to order it where to fall.

Tania S.
Tania S.2 years ago

Every year it is so sad when I cut back my garden. It means winter is soon approaching.

Genoveva M.
Genoveva M G.2 years ago

Thanks Erica for this great article. Gardening is a favorite for me, and there is so much to learn! Right now building a garden is my on going project.


Thanks for sharing. These are great tips

A F.
A F.2 years ago


Amandine S.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.