Basics of Planting a Fall Garden

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The month of June has gone by and we can look forward to the hot humid days of July. July is considered to be the perfect time to start preparing to plant your Fall Gardens. Remember it is July, so when you begin to prepare your beds, work early in the mornings before the sun gets too hot.

Begin by weeding your garden beds removing all weeds and debris, then watering the soil thoroughly. Cover the area with clear heavy plastic sealing the edges with some soil.

This is one method of solarization and it traps in the heat of the sun and will help to prevent the re-growth of unwanted new weeds, harmful nematodes, and other unwanted garden pests. Allow the area to rest like this for a minimum of six weeks during the hottest months of July and August.

You will be able to plant vegetables such as tomatoes or peppers afterward, if you do decide to opt for tomatoes or peppers be sure and plant maturating varieties such as Whirlaway, Carnival or Bingo these have a shorter maturity time, usually 75 days, giving you a crop before the first freeze. You will however still be ready to plant cool weather vegetables such as broccoli, turnips, carrots, and some varieties of Southern Peas.

Cold sensitive crops need to be planted in time to mature before the cold snaps begin and stop their growth and heat sensitive plants need to be planted late enough to take the first frost. This makes the timing of your planting crucial. A few examples of planting times are listed below; you can also check the Farmers Almanac.

  • Southern Peas – July 1st to August 1st
  • Tomato Plants – July 15th to August 2nd
  • Beans –  July 15th to August 15th
  • Broccoli – August 1st to September 15th
  • Carrots – August 15th to October 15th
  • Mustard Greens – September 15th to October 15th
  • Turnips – October 1st to November 1st

Planting within these time frames will ensure you of a bountiful fall vegetable garden.

Fertilizing Your Garden in the Fall

Question: What promoted the growth and health of a beautiful spring garden?

Answer: Knowing how to fertilize and prepare it in the fall. Good gardening fertilization techniques in the fall are essential to a healthy garden come next spring. Know what the letters and numbers on the packaging labels mean is a good start and a fact that one should know.

fertilizing plants

Knowing that the N= represents the amount of nitrogen and that nitrogen promotes good healthy growth of the plant foliage. P= represents the amounts of phosphorus which will aid stimulate and promote good root growth while K= represents the potassium levels for the cell functions and a healthy plant.

Sometime cooler weather will make plants seem dead or dormant when they are not, their roots are only growing, and then it is a good time to fertilize with a high phosphorus fertilizer to help assure yourself that your plants will have a strong root system next spring.

When there is an early frost in the fall this helps plants to produce higher levels of amino acids which will help them to resist freezing and making them hardier when the winter temperatures drop. As you start your fall fertilization remember that different plants have different needs such as perennials, your spring bulbs, and your roses.

Perennials love a high phosphate fertilizer with low nitrogen content and fertilizing with this type will give you a lovely array of blossoms at blooming time. In September or October plant your spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils and feed them with a phosphorus fertilizer at the root level to help get them established before the winter sets in.

As I plant I like to add a little compost as food while being sure to plant with the tips up and in a manner that the hole is at least 4 times the height of the bulb. Now is not a good time to fertilize roses, they should be fertilized before the winter set completely in and cut back after they have gone dormant for the winter.

Fertilizing in the fall only promotes and encourages new growth or simply cut them back and feed them well in the spring when new foliage begins to appear. After fertilizing with granular time-released fertilizer and raking it well into the ground it is a good idea to apply a layer of mulch, then water well allowing it to soak into the ground. Good fall fertilization of your garden will definitely pay off when next spring finally arrives.

Essential Jobs to Do for Fall Garden Clean-Up

One of the most essential jobs come fall when it comes to cleaning up and out your garden is the removal of any and all damaged or diseased materials. When plants have had a fungus or bacteria over the summer growing season they can overwinter on the roots and stems that have been contaminated.

fall garden

When removed properly it will reduce the chances of diseases in your next year’s garden. How much of the plant you should remove depends upon your garden type, so naturally, anything that was infected with a disease should be completely removed.

If you brought your house-plants outside for the summer, now is the time to start bringing them in. Some will more than likely need to be re-potted and or cut-back if they grew well during the summer growing season.

Be sure to check them for insects and diseases that may be on them so as not to contaminate any other houseplants. Bring them indoors in plenty of time to re-adjust to their indoor environment.

Now is the time also to lift and harvest your young bulbs from plants such as Dahlias, Gladiolus, and Begonias, three of my favorites. After lifting them and leaving the foliage around the roots intact, the proper storage of them is equally important.

Most bulbs will over-winter well when stored in an airy spot to dry out for 2 to 3 weeks then placed in a cool dark place that will be 45 to 50 degrees using vermiculite or peat moss and be sure to dust them with a fungicide and an insecticide to inhibit any insect or disease growth.

When you lift your begonias, be sure not to cut them back where they come from the root, after removing them allow them to dry and become brittle enough to break off.

After you have labeled and stored your bulbs be sure to have them where rats, mice, or other rodents can not get to them. They love bulbs with the exception of daffodils.

Begin planting your spring bulbs now also, such as daffodils and tulips, and band your new trees and shrubs with Tanglefoot to help deter fall canker-worms although the spring ones are the worse. Take the preliminary steps to safe-guard your roses now too and do the last by late October by cutting them back after they have begun to go dormant.

Cut the canes back by 6 to 12 inches and then mound them with fresh soil and cover with a basket, raised cones or wrap and tie them in burlap.

When your garden is completely cleaned out and litter-free, all neat and tidy then its time to till and turn the soil at least once to get it loosened. If your soil is unusually heavy you may want to soften its texture by adding some 4o pounds of gypsum per 1,000 square feet, and then add a really good mixture of compost or peat moss for added benefits.

A good garden clean-up now along with good and proper sanitation will surely guarantee you a healthy garden for next spring.

Taking Full Advantage of Fall Gardening for Next Year

Taking advantage of the fall as soon as the weather becomes cool is the perfect time to plant a perennial garden or some cool weather vegetables.

fall planting

Short season lettuces, quick maturing Kales and some fast-maturing mild-flavored onions, a home gardener favorite such as yellow, sweet Spanish or white also now is also a good time to sow some garlic for next spring’s garden. Plant the garlic in individual cloves so that when it comes up in the spring you will have fresh homegrown garlic to enjoy.

Fall is a very under-used season that many people do not take the advantage to enjoy when it comes to gardening.

Many novice gardeners don’t realize what crops can be planted late in the season because of their climate zones and miss taking advantage of the cooler temperatures and consistent rains that provide plenty of moisture to the plants.

By planting as soon as you have cool nights and frequent rains you can start a perennial garden for the next spring.

This will allow the new plants to establish their root system and settle down for the winter avoiding stress to their roots when the growing season starts. Plant your perennials in a well-draining part of the garden and put down plenty of mulch to help them get well established.

If you are planting new trees or shrubs do it while the ground is still warm being sure to stake them firmly to help protect if they will be exposed to cold winter winds. Adding a layer of mulch will also help to prevent any weed seed that blows from sprouting up.

Keep in mind that they will need to be watered even during the winter months. Snow does not always provide the root system with enough water to sustain new plants through winter, so be prepared to water them.

Spring-blooming bulbs such as daffodils, early-blooming snowdrops, crocus, and tulips should also be planted in the fall. Select which bulbs will be best suited for you then plant in layers as to give you a continuous burst of color during the spring blooming period.

Delicate plants such as roses should be covered if you reside in a colder climate. Covering them with burlap or strong rose cones will help to protect them from cold harsh winter winds.

Remember to fertilize not only your lawn in the fall but your plants as well. Fertilizing them in the fall helps them to withstand cold winters because the nutrients help to keep their roots fed and aids when the new growth starts. So go ahead and extend your gardening season from fall right into next spring and summer.


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