The start of fall may present questions for new and experienced gardeners.

We spoke with Tail-Ling Hills Farms co-owner Melissa Murphy so that we could give you the best opportunity for a great 2024 growing season.

With some frost possible tonight, what are some things to watch for for some of the most common things people have growing?

Your gardens, you'll have to definitely watch things like your above-ground, the tomatoes, things like that. Any of your root vegetables can tolerate a little bit cooler. And then, with the greenhouse, we grow a lot of flowers, so any of your annual plants, like your coleuses, some of those more expensive annuals will definitely not like the cooler temperatures.

Any advice for people covering tomato plants to protect them from the cold at night?

Get out there early enough in the morning to actually remove those sheets, because leaving them on can actually cause more damage.

When the moisture starts thawing when the sun comes up, it can actually damage your plant more.

When is a good time to harvest vegetables that are still green?

Your vegetables at this time, the plants themselves are starting to prep for the winter. And so things like your tomatoes, your peppers, stuff like that, a lot of those you can harvest when they're green and you can put them in paper bags and stuff like that, and they'll ripen in the house. I know if you leave your tomatoes on the vine, if you can leave more of the stem on, it will help them so they continue ripening. There are good recipes out there. People like green tomatoes for making different canning sauces and things too.

Should you water any differently now that it's getting cooler and the days are getting shorter?

For any of your garden vegetables, you can probably water a little bit. I know for things like your trees, and perennials, it's good to have a good watering, especially on newer trees and perennials so that they are able to soak up enough over the winter, so that when they go into their dormant mode. 

For your garden vegetables, probably a light watering if you have anything that you're going to try to hold over. But I don't think it's going to do a lot for your garden vegetables.

Are there any common mistakes gardeners make this time of year?

Cleaning up too early. If you leave a lot of your perennials, cutting them back too early, or even when you're cleaning up some of your garden vegetables in the plants, if you actually leave all of the leaves in place, it actually can be beneficial for your beneficial bugs, so your ladybugs, things like that that use those to hibernate in the winter. So if you actually leave that in your garden and don't cut your perennials and plant back until springtime, it will actually help so that those can hibernate over winter so that in the springtime they're still alive to help you fight pests that you don't want in your garden.

Even though it's not as nice looking, it is very beneficial for a lot of the bugs that need those for winter hibernation.

Is this the time to plant tulips or anything else?

You want to plant about six weeks before frost, so about this time is a good time to start your bulbs, and then just check the depths that you want to have them planted at. And then for any of your annuals, so things like your cannas, plants like that that wouldn't winter well in the ground. So the things you can look at cutting off and storing over winter. 

Those are things like your annual flowers. So some of your bulbs won't actually winter in the ground because we get too cold in the winter. So things like cannas, some of your dahlias, things like that that are bulbs. They need to actually winter indoors, or somewhere that's just above freezing. In the next little bit, it would be a good time to bring some of those things in. And then you can replant them in the springtime.

Anything else gardeners should watch for?

Make sure if you have planters, that you make sure that they're protected from the moisture getting into them. So if you have something to cover them, or you can store them in a shed, it's good to do that before they get moisture. Otherwise the thawing of the water and the refreezing can actually crack and destroy your planters. So make sure those are put away in the fall, so they don't get the added moisture. And it's a good time I guess to kind of start thinking about seed catalogues and kind of planning for the following spring. Look at what did well and didn't do well. Putting a bit of fertilizer like manure, things like that in your garden in the fall, that way it can be dug in in the springtime when you go to till up is another good thing to do in the fall. 

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