Fall Is for Planting!

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville
en Español

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The long-lasting heat of summer that lingered well into fall had me exhausted and without any desire to spend time working in my garden. Now that we are having cool fall days & crisp nights, I have regained my momentum.

I have cleaned up the warm season vegetables that were spent in my vegetable garden, planted a half dozen cabbage plants and mulched it with straw. As the leaves fall from the trees, I will chop them up and bag them with my lawnmower and add to both the vegetable garden and ornamental beds.

Fall is a great time for planting many trees, shrubs, perennials, spring flowering bulbs, and even winter annuals. As I composed this spot, I have a viburnum shrub, a box of perennial plants from a mail order source, and two flats of pansies at home to plant. You can plant cool season or winter annuals in the fall that will give you color throughout the winter into spring. Pansies, snapdragons, ornamental kale, and cabbage are a few that are commonly used.

Fall has several advantages for planting. The temperatures are cooler making it less stressful for plants and gardeners, generally, rainfall is a little more frequent, and the sun has dropped in the sky so it is not beating down on the plants so unrelentingly. Deciduous plants that have lost their leaves don’t have to put energy into supporting leaves, so can put that energy into growing their root system. Plants you put into the ground in the fall will begin to develop their root systems until the soil temperature drops to around 41° Fahrenheit.

Be sure to test your soil if you haven’t done that recently. You can pick up a soil test kit at the Extension Office or any Union County Public Library. Testing is free between April 1 and Thanksgiving, so your only cost is the postage for mailing your sample to the soil testing lab in Raleigh. I learned last year, that your sample must be in the lab before Thanksgiving, not post-marked before, in order to avoid the $4 per sample testing fee that is charged between Thanksgiving and March 31.

Join the Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers of Union County for their monthly educational meeting on Wednesday, Nov 7, 2018, 7 p.m., at the Union County Agriculture Center. The speaker will be former Horticulture Extension Agent, Jeff Reives, and his topic will be The Living Garden – Pollinators, Predators, Parasites.