31 Oct FALL PLANTING TIPS
You may have heard that the fall is the perfect time for planting just about everything in the garden. This is because when you plant, say, a tree, in October, it has the rest of the winter to put down good strong roots to get established. Now, each area of the country has its own planting schedule and guidelines, and it’s very important to know what those are in order to give your plants the best chance of surviving and thriving. Follow these fall planting tips and you’ll thank yourself next spring when you see healthy growth emerging.
Plant trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, and cool-season veggies and herbs. I wasn’t kidding when I said this is the perfect time to plant just about everything. Take the opportunity to amend your soil with compost (from your own pile or bagged from the garden center), then plant away. Know the mature size of each plant and then space them out accordingly — for example, if you want a row of shrubs that will grow to 3′ tall and wide, and you want them to touch in order to form a hedge, plant them 18″ apart.
Know your area’s average first freeze date. Every area, unless you live in places like the arid Southwest or Southern California, has winter freezes or frosts. In our area of Central Texas, it’s December 6. Why is this important? Because it can help you develop a plan to protect tender plants from a frost (36 degrees) or a freeze (32 degrees). And if you’re planning a fall vegetable garden, you’ll use your frost/freeze date to determine when to put your transplants out. Simply locate the “days to maturity” info on the plant tag or seed packet, and count backwards from the freeze date, and that will be your last recommended date to plant.
Use smaller plants. Plants in 4″ pots to 1-gallon containers cost less and establish more quickly, so for vegetables, herbs, and flowering perennials, those are the sizes I reach for during fall planting. They will use the winter months to grow deep roots, and will be much larger than their spring-planted counterparts. The exception to that rule would be trees and shrubs — you’ll want to plant larger specimens because these plants tend to grow much more slowly.