Pine cones are the most inexpensive crafting material out there, and make beautiful additions to fall wreaths. You can pick up a few right in your own backyard!
Make the Wreath: Wrap a 16-inch wreath form with burlap ribbon and loop a piece around the wreath form for hanging. Paint the tip of 40 pine cones in fall colors such as orange, yellow, and beige with acrylic paint. Brush the tips of 10 pine cones with matte Mod Podge and sprinkle with gold and copper glitter. once dry, wrap an 18-inch length of floral wire around the base of each pine cone and twist tie around the wreath form to secure, layering and overlapping them as you go.
Make the Wreath: Gather an assortment of old-fashioned candies in autumnal shades such as yellow, orange, and magenta. Wrap a 14-inch foam wreath form in white ribbon. Attach candy with hot-glue, layering and overlapping as you go. Finish with a yellow burlap bow.
In the fall, after harvest, most gardeners are content to close up shop and consider the gardening season over with. Besides growing extra crops, which is possible in the fall (including many lettuces, cabbages, potatoes, and so forth), the fall also offers the conscientious gardener an opportunity to prepare for the next season and get a jump-start on garden maintenance.
Obviously, your garden will need to be “picked clean” so you can prepare it for next year. This means pulling all plants that are no longer productive and removing any fruits and vegetables that may have been left behind.
Thoroughly cleaning the beds of debris and leftovers has several advantages. First, it clears them for easy cover crop planting (see below). Next, it removes any vegetable matter that could be potentially carrying disease that can over-winter in the organic matter until spring. Third, it goes a long way towards aesthetics and gives you a chance to look closely at your soil after the season is done.
Obviously, everything organic you pull from your soil and garden beds should be composted. (The only exception is diseased plants or weeds with seeds that could survive and come back to haunt you in the spring.) Compost is gardener’s gold and the more you have, the better off you are. Many gardeners who are not planting cover crops (and even some who are) like to till compost that is almost finished decaying into the soil so it can complete its nutrition release by spring. Another method is to add compost (without tilling) and add mulch on top.LEARN MORE: Bells Jars in the Garden
Leave Seeds for Birds
Any seeds you’re not going to use should be thrown to the birds. If you aren’t planting cover crops, seeds on the bare soil or mulch can encourage birds to spend time there. Their leavings will enhance your garden, even if only a little. Any is better than none.
Be sure to complete your gardener’s notes for the season and to fill in what you did during the fall. Your notebook is your record of what was planted where, how it did, and what you did or didn’t do that might improve it next time. It also gives you something to do to keep your green thumb active during the winter months. Here’s a really great gardening journal.
Crop rotation, cover crops (see below), and amendments (see below) can all help treat current and future pest infestations. Some pests are only abundant in the fall, such as late-appearing grasshoppers or the caterpillars of spring butterflies that fatten up before winter. If these are a problem for your area, there are many options for fall treatments.
Fall Cover Crops
Likely the most overlooked option for fall gardening, cover crops (or cool weather crops) can greatly enhance your garden’s health and vitality. Several options are available, depending on your climate zone, and crops can be tuned to do anything from providing extra organic matter in the spring to adding nitrogen to your soil.
As mentioned above in composting, soil amendments in the fall are a great way to enhance your soil’s health before spring planting comes around. Check your local garden center for available options. Many amendments are specifically meant for fall addition and are best added when no food crops are present. Lime is a good example of this.LEARN MORE: Growing Edible and Cut Flowers in The Home Garden
Fall Planter Maintenance
If you have window or porch planters, now is the time to clean them out and prepare them for storage. Leaving the soil in them over the winter, exposed, is generally a bad idea and the soil in containers should be replaced (or heavily amended) annually anyway. Often the best solution is to add the soil to your winter compost heap.
Chlorophyll usually steals the spotlight, but leaves also contain other pigments (that’s a substance that provides color), including the ones that make carrots orange and turn egg yolks yellow. Without chlorophyll’s green, these pigments finally make themselves known.
Sometimes, trees also produce the same red pigments that give raspberries their color. Leaves make those red pigments only in the fall, and scientists aren’t sure why it happens. But it must be for a good reason, because it takes a lot of sugar — which the tree needs to save up as much as possible. One guess is that these deep reds help protect dying leaves from sun damage, allowing them to collect energy just a little longer. They may also serve as a warning to animals that might otherwise eat or lay eggs on the leaves.
The exact coloring of fall foliage is the result of a mix of these red, orange and yellow pigments. So environmental conditions that change how much there is of each — such as sun exposure, soil moisture and temperature — can make a big difference. Colors vary by species, too.
Eventually, sunlight and frost kill off all pigments but tannin, which is brown. The very cells of the leaf will break down as well, making them fragile and dry. Meanwhile, the tree creates corklike cells to seal itself off from its leaves, even creating a sort of scab where each one connects to the branches. Eventually wind or some other disturbance will break the dying leaf away, leaving the tree with a tiny scar.
That’s how we get those brilliant bursts of color — and wonderful leaf piles to hop around in. In the spring, trees get to make new leaves and start the whole process again.