More ways to avoid gardening in fall


Sit around and do nothing
This is actually my favorite strategy all year round. But it’s particularly rewarding in mid-October, when no pressing watering, deadheading, or staking issues are likely to present themselves. This is why my garden is set up more as a place to hang out than to work. (Note, for example,  the lack of a potting bench or shed, while there are 8 chairs.)

Go Brown Booby watching
This tropical diving bird, whose habitat is normally thousand of miles south of here, has been spotted along the waterfront. (You may recognize it from the frequent mentions in the Patrick O’Brian nautical series.) Fall and spring are good times for bird-watching of any kind here, with migrating species of all types passing through on their way to wherever.

Buy pots
All the ceramic is on sale now. I’ll be using it for bulb-forcing and then annuals or herbs. Choosing it is part one of the project; part two is the laborious process of removing all three of the old-fashioned sticky tags and their remnants.

Buy more bulbs
You have to be well-practiced in the art of denying that someone will have to plant these, and I am.

Plan winter vacations
In a month or two, it will be impossible even to sit and do nothing in the garden—time for a break!

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. But I like to garden in the fall. Cooler and less humidity. Usually. But not this year. This is the tine for the critical eye and ruthlessness. I shovel prune and transplant. Spread the compost that cooked all summer.

  2. I’m with Tibs & skr – October is when I get so much more done in the garden. And there’s so much more to be done. It’s much more pleasant to work, too, so long as I’m inside before the mosquito horde descends. I can have a garden all through the winter (in fact, I generally prefer the winter veggies over the summer produce), so I’ve got to get it planted & mulched & protected from ravenous snails. And I’ve got to keep up with the clean-up. With the sun rising so much later & setting so much earlier, I often don’t see much of my garden during the week. When I do, I have to make the most of my time. One rainy weekend could set me back in the garden quite a bit.

  3. I don’t like to just sit around in the fall. All too soon the snow will fall and then I will WANT to get out in the garden and get dirt under my fingernails but I’ll have a long, long wait until spring.

    Unfortunately once I get my bulbs planted there isn’t much to do this time of year. It’s too late to plant before the winter, even if the garden centers had any plants. I don’t like to “tidy” things up yet – there’s still some color there and I leave seeds for the birds and leaves for compost and dead plants to overwinter the good bugs.

    So I try to sit in the garden and make plans but my neighbors have their leaf blowers out…

    No, I really don’t like the garden in the fall. Wake me when it’s spring.

  4. I do quite a few of these ‘fall gardening activities’ myself although ‘Brown Booby Watching’ is not on the list since I live a good distance from the ocean. I have been watching many other birds though so I count that as a win.

  5. My natural tendency, once the first frost kills my tomatoes and other tender babies, is to sigh with relief and sit down with a good book. My inner garden tyrant, however, has other plans. Unhook the sprinklers! Roll up the hoses! Pull up the dead zuke and tomato vines! Move kale to the cold frame! Put away those empty pots! No rest at all. So I am envious of your sloth. I must say, the garden colors beyond your tastefully painted tootsies are gorgeous.

    BTW how do you get those %$#$%%!*# labels off the pots?!?!

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