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The Final Push to Plant

By Paul James

The first blast of genuine arctic air arrived today, a clear sign that sooner or later, like it or not, winter is just around the corner. But there’s still plenty of time to get lots of stuff done in the garden. Important stuff. Meaningful stuff. Stuff that’ll make you proud. And stuff that’ll make your neighbors envious. Here’s what I’m talking about.

Trees, Shrubs, and Perennials

I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again. Fall, as in now through at least the end of the month (maybe longer, depending on weather), is the best time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials. I could write ad naseum as to why that is, but I’ll save you the time. Just take my word for it. After all, you trust me, right?

Fescue and Rye

The window of opportunity for planting cool-season grasses stays open for months, so if you haven’t seeded or reseeded already, no worries. There’s still plenty of time to bust out the spreader and get ‘er done. Just make sure you water to keep the seed moist.

Spring-Flowering Bulbs

Who doesn’t love the sight of daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths blooming in spring? Well apparently you don’t if you haven’t found the time to plant them! The good news is there’s still plenty of time to get them in the ground, but try to finish planting by the end of the month.


Talk about easy and fun to grow! The time to plant garlic is now, for a harvest in early July. Plant individual cloves two-inches deep and six-inches apart in decent soil. Green shoots will emerge sometime in December, but fear not, for they’re insanely hardy. If you can’t find bulbs at the garden center, grab some at a natural foods market such as Whole Foods. Don’t buy bulbs that don’t have roots – those are from China and may not grow.


My love of leaves goes way back, and to this day I consider them to be the finest soil amendment money can’t buy. Nothing will improve lousy soil better or faster than a thick layer of (preferably shredded) leaves. And they’re the perfect material for starting a compost pile. So please, don’t trash them. Treasure them.

Gardens to Bed

Once you’ve tackled all those tasks, top off all your beds with a thick layer of mulch – shredded or chipped wood (or shredded leaves) — in ornamental gardens and straw (or shredded leaves) in vegetable gardens.

Although the shivering arctic air made it feel as though winter has already arrived, temperatures are going to rebound this weekend, and Saturday looks like the perfect day to get out and garden. Enjoy!

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2 responses to “The Final Push to Plant”

  1. Pat Watson says:

    So should we just run the lawn mower over the leaf covered grass (Bermuda) and leave the shredded leaves?