Although it has been unusually warm, cooler weather has arrived in some spots in the high country, and it’s time to begin to think about wrapping up the summer growing season and preparing for the next.
The saying “fall is for planting” couldn’t be more accurate!
To prepare your yard for fall, watch the weather forecasts because your preparations will vary greatly depending on where you live. Pot annuals that you want to overwinter and bring them inside before the frosts. Place in a sunny window or greenhouse for continued winter blooming. Some plants, such as Christmas cactus, azaleas, some orchids and others need cool nights to set buds, so those should be left out a little longer. Be sure to check for insects and diseases before bringing any plant inside.
September is a perfect time to plant evergreen trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, new perennials and early spring bulbs. While many people associate spring with the planting season for some of these, fall is perhaps a better time. With warm, sunny days and cool nights, the ground stays warm and the air temperature is more moderate; therefore, the shock of transplanting is lessened in many cases. Putting the roots into warm soil helps the tree or shrub become established and begin growing before winter’s harsh weather forces it into dormancy.
The same goes for perennials. While most people plant their perennials in spring or summer, many varieties have their best show in the fall. t. When working in your perennial beds at this time of year, you might want to tag any that will become unidentifiable after frost. This enables you to know what and where they are so that they are not dug up or pulled when you do your fall cleanup later in the season or in the spring when you clean the beds of winter debris.
In addition to new plantings, it’s also a great time to transplant or divide asparagus, rhubarb, peonies, and spring or summer blooming perennials. To do this, carefully dig up the plant which you wish to divide, making sure to get the roots. Break into smaller pieces, retaining the outside for replanting. If you want to discard part of the plant, the inside is the best part to throw away since it is the oldest. Replant the outer, younger pieces. As a rule of thumb, perennials should be dug up, divided and replanted every two to three years, depending on their size and location.
Bulbs are probably the thing people think about most When thinking about fall planting, most people think about bulbs.Bulbs are a great way to introduce children to gardening – there is nothing for kids to hurt, and it’s fun for kids to watch them come up in spring. Daffodils, hyacinths, garlic, iris, allium and more all need to be planted over the next month or so in order to put on their spring show. Bulbs can be planted any time you can work the ground before it freezes, but I would advise waiting a bit to plant them because it has been so warm.
In addition to planting, it’s also time to harvest the summer vegetables that you wish to preserve, use, or dry before the first frosts. Tomatoes can be picked green and allowed to ripen in a sunny indoor window. Wait until after the first light frost to harvest things like cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. They will taste better if you wait until we have a light frost to pick these.
Finally, if you have a cold frame, or way to cover vegetables, it’s not too late to get a last crop of leafy greens like lettuce and spinach. As we get into October though, you’ll probably have to cover and give them some protection from frost in order to have a successful harvest.
September is one of my favorite months because the weather is wonderful, and it’s a great time to work in your yard and enjoy the colors of the season. It really is for planting, and be sure to include your family. Children like to “help,” and this is a great way for them to do so with some supervision. And, as always, keep on watering and weeding!
Gail Vanik can be reached at 970-565-8274 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.