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Fall is for Planting

by dig the dirt editor

Most gardeners think of spring as the ideal time for planting, but autumn has many advantages.



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Fall is the perfect time for planting:





Some planting guidelines


  • Plant as soon as the summer heat as passed. Shorter days and cooler evenings are your clues that it's time to get out the spade. Planting early in the fall insures that plants have adequate time to form strong, deep root systems before cold weather hits.
  • In cold climates, plant at least 6 weeks before the first frost (call your local extension office for the first frost date).



After planting... then what??


  • Always water plants at planting time, and continue watering as needed until the ground freezes. Well-hydrated plants are better able to resist the drying ravages of winter winds and cold temperatures. Soak the soil at the base of new plants once a week, or every other week, depending on rainfall.
  • Lay off the fertilizer. When applied at this time of year, especially if the fertilizer has a high nitrogen level, it stimulates tender growth that's easily damaged by an early cold snap. Instead, use a "starter" fertilizer at the time of planting; this is one with a high phosphorous content that stimulates root growth. Remember the fertilizer numbers, such as 5-10-5, refer to the basic plant nutrients: nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium.



How to prevent heaving

Heaving occurs when plants are pushed out of the ground by the expansion and contraction of soil as it freezes and thaws between late fall and early spring. In the process, the base of the plant—or root crown—is revealed and exposes the roots to cold temperatures and drying winds.

  • Get your plants into the ground early in the season, and then do not apply deep mulch too soon. Wait until the ground has frozen before applying a 3- to 5-inch layer of mulch of shredded bark or leaves.
  • Mulch insulates the ground and minimizes the freezing and thawing action that damages or destroys plants. If, after you take these precautions, some of your plants still start to push themselves out of the ground during a thaw, gently but firmly push them back into the soil so their roots are not exposed.



fall planting, Bulbs, Lilies, poppies, Daffodils, Tulips, Crocus


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