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Fall Planting Tips

Fall is a great time to plant fruiting trees, bushes, vines and other perennials in most of the country. Areas that have severe and deep winter cold temperatures though are often safer to plant in the spring. The main advantage of fall and early winter planting is that roots can grow all winter making for plants that are more established and connected to the soil by the time the next growing season comes. Fall planted starts typically will put on more growth the following summer, and stand a better chance surviving drought than plants planted later in the spring.

One of the most important planting details, especially in moist climates, is to raise the planting depth of the start a couple of inches to prevent drowning.(see planting diagram-Link) Most plants need ample air to their roots as well as water, and a sunken planting depth can cause death or setback, especially during a plants first spring if conditions are wet.  How serious a concern this is depends on how heavy (clayey) your soil is, and how wet your climate (or irrigation) is. A heavy soil in a wet climate needs more raising than a sandy soil in a dry one.

Mulching your newly planted start with hay, straw, rotted sawdust, compost, or manure, etc. protects feeds and aerates the soil by preventing compaction and feeding the worms, fungi and other beneficial micro-organisms. Fertilizers are generally best used as a top dress worked in to the top inch or two around the base of the plant in early spring. Remember to always leave a 6 inch or more area around the base of the trunk or stem of the plant clear of any fertilizers or mulch to prevent burning or rodent damage.

After planting protect your plants by staking to prevent accidental breakage, and if you have rabbits, deer or other hungry herbivores on the loose, be sure to fence them away securely. If gophers are a problem planting the roots in a wire cage is recommended.  More tender plants can be protected from harsh cold by building a frame and wrapping with a breathable heavy row cover .

Besides the above mentioned benefits of fall planting it is also a time when our inventory of plants is up helping to prevent the disappointment of what you want being sold out later. We also like to plant this time of year with the weather being cool, soil moist and the pressure of the vegetable garden and the rest of the spring rush far away. Happy planting!

Planting Diagram


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