Ready for Fall Gardening? Me Too!
By Paul James
Okay, so I may be jumping the gun a bit by writing about fall gardening in August. After all, fall is still 32 days away. But it does seem as though the worst of summer is behind us, which means the time to start planning (and even in some cases planting) is now. So here’s a rundown of the things you should consider getting done in the weeks to come.
Trees and Shrubs
Without a doubt, fall is the best time to plant deciduous trees and shrubs, because their roots grow rapidly in warm autumn soils. And with a well developed root system, they’re in a much better position to “push” new growth in spring. If you water wisely, it’s okay to plant smaller, container trees and shrubs now. However, I’d still wait another three weeks or so before planting large trees. And keep in mind that you can continue planting until the ground freezes (assuming it ever does).
The same rule that applies to large trees applies to conifers of any size. Wait until temps cool down a bit. Shoot for late September.
Fescue and Rye
As true cool-season grasses, fescue and rye germinate and grow best when daytime temps are in the 70s to low 80s and overnight temps drop into the 50s to low 60s. Around here, that usually means September through October.
Plant away, but water routinely so roots don’t dry out.
Fall is my absolute favorite time in the veggie garden, because temperatures are ideal for growing most of the same veggies that are grown in spring. From seed, plant beets, carrots, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips. You can also plant potatoes for a fall harvest. It’s best to start with transplants rather than seeds if you plan on growing broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.
You can start planting now and continue through September. After all, many greens, including lettuce and spinach, are ready to harvest in as few as 30 days. And most cool-season vegetables can withstand temperatures close to freezing, so you may be able to get a second crop in before winter sets in. Just make sure you water well, as in every day, during the hot days of August and September, to keep the seeds moist.
Although spring-flowering bulbs typically arrive in early September, you should wait until October to plant them, and continue planting through November. Feel free to go ahead and buy them to make sure you get the varieties you want, but keep them stored in a paper bag in the garage until planting time.
Mums and Pansies
What’s fall without mums and pansies, right? Both can be planted as soon as they’re available, whether in the ground or in containers, and both are cold hardy.
Happy gardening, ya’ll.
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