By Diane Emerson

Vegetable and Flower Gardens

Slug Control

Slug control is most effective in fall. In late summer or early fall, rake the first few inches of the garden soil to expose eggs to air and predators, before they hatch. Put slug traps out in late September to early October, as the slugs are very active then.

Weed Control

Now is the best time to control perennial weeds. If left, some can continue to grow over the winter, or at least will have a good head start by spring. In early fall, pull emerging weeds while the soil is moist and before they have developed deep roots.

Dig blackberries once fall weather is cooler. You already have heavier clothes on to keep warm, so you are better from the thorns, and the ground is soft for digging. A sawtooth shovel will pop out the roots quickly, and make this a relatively easy task. Ideally, you will have something to plant in their place, as nature abhors a vacuum.

Mulch garden beds with leaves or compost to reduce winter weeds and feed
the soil. Or plant winter cover crops in open beds.

Lawns

Good Health Maintenance
September is the best time to aerate, de-thatch, overseed, and topdress with ½ inch of organic compost, and add agricultural lime (if soil tests indicate). This annual practice will help the grass grow, and crowd out weeds, and fight off disease like Fusarium patch.
 
If you don’t add compost, and just want to fertilize, the best time to is September, when grass plants are building root reserves for the next year. Use “natural organic” or “slow release” fertilizer. Fertilizing in the fall will help crowd out weeds.
 
Eco-Turf Seed Mix Planting
An eco-turf seed mix of grass and short, drought tolerant perennials is a good choice for less water use, less mowing, and less fertilizing. When planting eco-turf seed in fall, seed should be on the ground well in advance of the first hard frost in your area (28 degrees for more than one hour); For Puget Sound, the window of opportunity is between mid Sept and the first week in October. Fruit Trees Holistic Orchard Approach Holistic Orchard Spray Continue to spray the basic holistic orchard spray (no hydrolyzed fish) up until harvest.
Fruit Trees
Holistic Orchard Approach
Holistic Orchard Spray: Continue to spray the basic holistic orchard spray (no hydrolyzed fish) up until harvest.
Harvest
Harvest off the ground to be sure it is ripe. In England, they harvest the tree when 1/3 of the apples are on the ground Post Harvest Spray A holistic fall spray (liquid fish, pure neem oil, effective microbes and/or compost tea) made when 50% of the leaves have fallen off the tree is absolutely recommended. Target the ground, trunk, and branch structure. This is important for leaf decomposition as well as competitive colonization from bacterial and fungal disease within bark crevices. The nitrogen in fish should also help alternative bearing trees shore up bark nitrogen reserves for spring bud growth.
Replace Disease-Prone Trees
Do some trees have the same disease problems every year, taking up your time, money, and not producing well? Replace them with resistant varieties. September and October are the best months to plant.
Disease and Insect Control
Practice orchard sanitation: Clean up windfall fruit around your tree, especially if it has signs of pests or diseases.
 
Peach Leaf Curl
Keeping trees sheltered from rain during winter gives good control. WSU Mount Vernon has successfully grown peaches under plastic shelters to control curl, as have local fruit club members. The shelters need to go up before the fall rains begin.
Rodent Control
Weed around the base of your fruit trees to remove hiding spots for rodents that may otherwise chew on the bark unseen over winter. Install tree guards on young trees. Check that mesh protection from voles remains in place on all bearing trees with tender bark.
Soil Health
Applying soil amendments at this time works best as the soil remains relatively warm and feeder roots are in uptake mode. Spread lime (if light applications of "renewal lime" were indicated earlier on a soil test) on fallen leaves, mow aggressively, then spread well-aged compost.