Friday, August 29, 2008

Fall is for planting

Everyone thinks of Spring planting but what about Fall? Just about everything you plant in the spring can also be fall planted. And many of our favorite plants must be established in the fall. Think bulbs… and not just the pretty ones, garlic, too.
The reason that fall is such a great planting season is that the soil is warm and we have a very long growing season from September until about Thanksgiving. Think about that… 90 days of growing weather. True, many plants aren’t pproducing much shoot growth. But the roots of many plants continue to function long after shoots appear dormant. Sure, we’ll have a frost in mid-October but most years this is followed by many days of frost free temperatures.
So, thinking about a tree or shrub for the backyard? Now is a great time to get to the garden center and look over the inventory. Many places offer good deal at the end of the season. Pick plants carefully and be sure they have been well cared for during the summer season. Plant as soon as possible, water well and mulch to get them off to a good start. Certain species are known to be difficult to transplant and probable should not be fall planted. Some oaks, magnolias, Stewartia, sweetgum, crape myrtle, hawthorn and hornbeams are best planted in the spring.
When it comes to lawns, fall is the best season for renovation and establishment. Warm soil, cool nights and reduced weed pressure all add up to success. Even lawn maintenance practices such as liming, fertilization and weed control have more bang for the buck when done in the fall.
How about those bulbs? An afternoon spent in October planting bulbs pays big dividends in the spring. Want to see those impressive displays of color like you see in formal gardens and landscapes? Buy bulbs by the hundreds rather than the dozen and your landscape will shine. On-line or catalog prices on these quantities are really attractive. Get together with the neighbors and make a big purchase.
Finally, my favorite…. Garlic. Maybe it’s not the prettiest plant in the garden but this vegetable is easy to grow, stores well and has better quality when home grown than you can buy at the supermarket. Find a garlic supplier in the Northeast U.S and plan to have the bulbs delivered in October. Plant about Columbus Day or even a little later in rich garden soil. You’ll be rewarded about the 4th of July next year.
Fall is for planting. Get to work!

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