Don’t let fall slip through your fingers without taking advantage of everything this season has to offer. We’re getting short on fall days in Iowa, but you’ve still got some time to embrace fall activities, make some memories, and of course, get a few last projects done around the yard.
If you’re short on ideas of what to do, here are a few last-minute strategies to make the most of autumn. It’s not all about work and yard projects; there are a few ideas for fall fun in this list, too, so make sure to take a few breaks and enjoy the best of an Iowa autumn.
If you had some favorite annuals this year that you’d like to have more of next year, save some seeds from them! Most plants are setting seed now, and it’s pretty easy to harvest them. Once the seedheads have dried up and turned brown, you can gather the seed. Be careful with flowers like poppy seeds; it’s best to take a container or envelope right to the plant when you harvest, so they don’t get spilled on the ground.
You can harvest and dry seeds from tomatoes, beans, peppers, corn, cucumbers, squash or pumpkins, spinach, and amaranth in the vegetable patch. In the flower beds, you can save seeds from:
- Bachelor Buttons
- Black-Eyed Susans
- Sweet Peas
Make sure your seeds dry well and store them in labeled paper envelopes so that you can start them early next spring.
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Take Cuttings and Propagate Plants
Many of your favorite garden plants, like geraniums and coleus, are actually tender perennials. If you snip off some healthy chunks of young stems, remove a few of the lower leaves, and pop them into moist soil, you can have yourself a whole batch of free plants for next summer.
Create a Pumpkin Container
Make your porch decor a little more interesting by turning your pumpkins into a flower pot—plant things like ornamental kale or chrysanthemums right into your pumpkin. When the frost finally kills everything, you can toss the whole thing into the compost bin.
Go for a Leaf Drive
Take an afternoon and go for a drive in the countryside to check out the gorgeous fall foliage colors. It’s been a spectacular fall, so don’t miss it.
Visit an Apple Orchard
While you’re out on your afternoon adventure, stop by an apple orchard or a pumpkin patch. Enjoy the delicious flavors of the fall harvest, and take home some fresh apples or a few pumpkins for the front porch.
Play in the Leaves
Those leaves aren’t going to clean themselves up. But before you get rid of them, indulge your children, grandchildren, or your inner child, and play in them. There’s nothing like a pile of leaves to toss around and jump in to get everyone laughing.
Amend Your Garden Soil
Ok, you got those leaves raked up, but instead of filling up plastic garbage bags and sending them out with the trash, why not use them to improve your garden soil? As long as you don’t have trees with Anthracnose, you can turn those leaves into one of the best soil enrichments that exists. Mow over them a couple of times to break them up small, and then add them to your compost, or mix them straight into the soil in your garden beds.
This is also an excellent time to do a soil test and see if any other nutrients are missing, so you can add any other amendments if necessary.
Plant Spring Bulbs
Make spring easy and colorful by planting lots of spring bulbs. There are many more options than just tulips, and with just a little effort now, you can fill your yard with beautiful flowers from the time the snow starts to melt until summer flowers begin to bloom.
Plant a Tree or Shrub
Fall is also a great time to add trees and shrubs to your landscape. Just don’t wait too much longer to get them in the ground. Trees and shrubs should be in the ground about 6 weeks before the first killing frost of the season.
Dig out those bird feeders, disinfect them well, and then fill them up for our feathered friends.
Feed the Birds
There are lots of birds starting to arrive on their winter migration journey, and the bugs they eat are getting scarce. Dig out those bird feeders, disinfect them well, and then fill them up for our feathered friends. Consider adding a heated birdbath for them this winter.
Build a New Garden Bed
Do you wish you had more raised beds? Well, now is a great time to build some. They’re quick to build, and getting them done now means the soil will settle over the winter, and you’ll know how much more you need to add next spring.
Have a Bonfire
The yard is cleaned up, the tools are put away, and the season is nearing its end. Celebrate with a bonfire, some hot drinks, and one last session of roasting hot dogs and marshmallows around the fire with family and friends.