This past Saturday, the 23rd, was the Fall Equinox—the first official autumn day—in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, they’re just starting spring!
The word “equinox” comes from the Greek word aequus meaning equal, and nox, meaning night. On the equinox, the days and nights are approximately the same length.
On the equinox, the sun is directly over the equator. After that date, the sun’s rays begin shining south of the equator. It’s the tilt of the earth’s axis that determines our seasons. It’s summer when the sun’s rays are directly in the northern hemisphere.
Since the Summer Solstice in June, our days have been getting about two and a half minutes shorter daily. After the Fall Equinox, the nights are longer than the days.
Some gardeners are sighing with relief after all the summer’s hard work. Time to rest, right? Wrong! There are a lot of tasks to do in the fall. You can plant cool-season vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach, peas, etc. Fall is also a great time to plant onions and garlic for a fabulous spring harvest.
Now is also the best time to repair your lawn. Most of our grasses are tall turf fescues—they tolerate the hot weather, but the best time to feed and overseed is in the cooler fall weather. Regarding feeding, fall is also a great time to put compost or manures in your garden to renew the soil. When spring comes, you’re ready to go.
Fall is also a great time to think about vibrant and beautiful spring colors like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, etc. They LOVE our winter weather. They won’t bloom without it. Fall is also the best time to divide a lot of perennials: bearded iris, day-lilies, etc. That way, they have the whole winter to grow new roots. Trees and shrubs are usually best planted or transplanted in the fall. During the summer, the heat can be a bit of a deterrent to root growth, so the cooler temperatures of fall help. Fall is also the time to get weeds and debris out of the garden so insects and diseases have nowhere to hide during the winter.
And, just because it’s so much easier in the spring to have one less chore to do, now is a great time to clean and sharpen your garden tools. On Thursdays, we have a fabulous knife-sharpener at our Farmers Market who will sharpen knives, scissors, and garden tools.
If you have any fall gardening questions, we’re here for you!