Fall is finally here! With this season change comes cooler temperatures, more leaves falling from trees, autumn door décor, and Halloween fast approaching. Fall is also the second busiest gardening season. Most Canadian gardeners use this time to prepare their garden for winter and the upcoming spring. Here are some tips on what you should plant in your garden:
Trees and shrubs
Planting trees and shrubs is ideal for fall gardening. It’s best to plant them in September and early October. The soil is warm and less damp than it is in the springtime and the crisp autumn air will help increase root growth. This will help get the tree or shrub formed before the ground completely freezes. Before you start to dig, it’s wise to contact any local utility companies to make sure you won’t be planting near any underground lines. Once you start, Better Homes and Gardens recommends digging a hole that is twice as wide but no deeper than the root ball. Although, if planting in heavy clay or compacted soil, dig a hole three or four times wider than the root ball to loosen the soil and encourage roots to spread out. Also, water them thoroughly, giving them about 1 inch of water per week until the ground freezes for winter.
Growing and harvesting vegetables is a fall and winter activity most gardeners enjoy. Vegetables thrive in mild temperatures such as pumpkin, squash, garlic, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, kale, carrots, and parsnips. The brisk temperatures can help make vegetables taste extra fresh and sweet. They can grow under floating row covers or cold frames that will allow light and air in, but will protect them from frost. Parsnips, leeks, and carrots can be harvested up until December. To figure out when to sow fall vegetables, review the seed packet information for the “days to maturity.”
There are many herbs which can be planted in fall such as garlic, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, lavender, mint, and cilantro. These herbs will flourish with colder temperatures and only need a few weeks for them to grow. They can be used for adding zesty flavour to your meals.
Tulips may be considered to be a perennial, however, they can be planted in the fall making them similar to annuals. They should be planted on a September and October evening, six to eight weeks before the ground freezes. Be sure to plant them in a spot where they are guaranteed some afternoon sun. If the tulip bulbs have not been ‘prechilled’ already, they can be kept in a paper bag in the fridge for a few weeks before planting. This is important as the cold period will produce the roots so they’ll flower.
Pansies flourish in the cool-season which is why they are popular to plant in spring and fall. If you decide to plant them in the fall, they will look extra vigorous when they are expected to bloom in the spring. The still-warm soil temperature gives their roots time to form. Make sure they are planted six to nine inches apart.
Asiatic and Oriental lilies
Asiatic and Oriental lilies should be planted from late September to November. They are easy to grow even for the most inexperienced gardeners. Choose an area to plant them where soil will drain well and where they can get some morning sun. Before winter arrives, apply mulch over the bulbs with four to six inches of weed-free compost, leaves or wood chips. This will help with soil freezing and grow longer roots.