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Fall is Great for Planting
Perhaps you've always thought the best time for planting is in the spring and although you've probably heard that fall is great for planting you're not sure you believe it. Here's why fall really is a good time for planting:
  • Autumn's cooler temperatures are easier on the plants and the gardener. The soil is still warm which allows roots to grow until the ground freezes. In the spring, the plants' growth is often hindered by cold soil temperatures.
     
  • In addition to cooler temperatures, the weather is more predictable. Remember how cold and rainy it was last May? It was nearly impossible to plant then!
     
  • Most pest and disease problems are reduced in the fall. The colder night time temperatures hinder insects and microbial diseases allowing the plants to become established before they must fight off an infection. Rabbits and deer, however, are hungry and can be menacing to your plants at this time of year. 
     
  • Deciduous trees and shrubs are naturally focused on root development at this time of year. Fall is really ideal for trees and shrubs - in the spring they are already set in place and ready to go when it gets warm. Evergreens will require supplemental watering over the winter if you plant them now and if you plant a tall tree, it will need careful staking.
     
  • Spring-blooming bulbs and many biennial plants need a period of cold dormancy. We plant them in the fall so they have a cool-down period.
     
  • One more good reason: bargain time at the garden centers! Because they'd rather sell it than have to nurse it along all winter, the garden centers mark down much of their remaining stock.
The window for fall planting is closing. My ideal is to have everything I'm going to plant in the ground by October 15th. This gives the plants just enough time to settle in before the soil freezes hard.

When the weather turns cold enough to freeze, you can expect to get a frost warning email from me.
Fall Clean-up Service    
Although I believe we'll have a few more weeks of pleasant weather, I want to remind you that I offer a fall clean up service to clean out and protect your containers for the winter. When you are ready to have your containers cleared up, contact me or give me a call at (970) 988-3808 to schedule.
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What I'm doing in my yard...
  • Planting and transplanting perennials. I'm not one to rearrange the furniture, but I've rearranged plants more than a few times! I'm dividing Irises and Daylilies; moving plants that are crowded or shaded by the trees; and planting a few more I got on discount. Let me know if you'd like some Iris rhizomes.

  • Planting spring-blooming bulbs. I love tulips but so do rabbits. I am loathe to feed those vermin so I don't plant tulips. Daffodils, on the other hand, are poisonous to rabbits so they've become my new favorite!
     
  • Harvesting cucumbers, green beans, apples and raspberries. I also planted my fall crop of cool season vegetables: radishes, lettuce, spinach and swiss chard.laying_pavers
  • Laying pavers around the edge of the garden bed. I couldn't decide what I wanted to do with the space around the raised bed, so it sat as bare dirt for two years. I decided I wanted a flat surface I can sweep clean and which won't get muddy. My husband, Cal, and I have laid flagstone before but this was our first time putting in cement pavers. Turns out, they're much easier to work with than natural stone and I love the random pattern we put down! Also, I'm excited not to have to weed this area next year!  

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What I should be doing in my yard...
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  • Turning/harvesting the compost pile. Here's a picture of my compost pile so that you can understand why this isn't getting done. The bed is a triangle with 8-foot sides. The front panel can be removed so you can rake everything off the top and then shovel it back again. I have been piling yard waste and kitchen scraps on the pile for at least 5 years without turning or harvesting it. Really, I should get this done to make room for when the trees drop their leaves. The compost pile isn't pretty but it also doesn't smell bad. Since my purpose for it is waste diversion not compost production, I think it's working perfectly. 

  • Top-dressing the bark mulch. In areas where the mulch has gotten thin in the perennial beds, I should add more. A good, thick layer of bark mulch helps to mitigate temperature fluctuations in the soil over the winter. I don't remove old mulch, I just add more on top.
  • Fertilizing the turf grass with a winterizing mix. If you're only going to fertilize the turf grass once a year, this is the time to do it as it really encourages good root growth. 
  • Reducing the water to the tomatoes to get them to ripen. If they don't ripen before the frost, they can be placed in a paper bag for a few days. Adding an apple to the bag helps ripens them faster. This happens because ripe and rotting fruit generate ethylene and the presence of this gas makes nearby fruit ripen faster. Thus the saying "one bad apple ruins the barrel" is actually true.

spacer.gifIf you have questions about what you're doing or what you should be doing, ask meI won't pretend I have all the answers, but I always like to talk about plants!
               --Stephanie