Fall Planting Tips from the Little Red Hen Nursery
Greetings All, Fall is fast approaching and the Little Red Hen is gearing up for an exciting season, some big changes are in the works and you won’t want to miss out. In the meantime there’s a lot of work to do and we’ve put together some helpful tips to make this an exceptionally productive fall season.
1. Time to get your cool season vegetable starts in the ground: Whether you seeded your own or picked up your favorites from the Little Red Hen Nursery, now is the time to get them in their final homes for the season. Leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and Kale to name a few are just waiting for you. The weather has cooled off enough to prevent bolting, but isn’t so cold as to stifle production. Nothing beats homegrown veggies and it’s not to late to plant your own victory garden and have the benefits of fresh produce all season long.
2. Now is the perfect time to tackle those larger planting projects: To some extent we all dread these, the hole needs to be large, the plants can be difficult to manage due to size, and if they’re really big you’ll finish the whole thing owing your friends a big favor. But it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience.
Fall planting protects the plants from the extreme summer heat, but retains enough warmth in the soil to allow for root stabilization before the cold snaps hit, additionally it positions the plant to be ready to hit the ground running when spring finally arrives. Another invaluable benefit is that the heavy winter rains means you won’t be using excessive amounts of water to get the plant settled.
Just a couple of other tips: pre soak the area you are planning to dig in the night before, wet soil may be heavier, but if your not blessed with beautiful soil this trick prevents chiseling the spot out. Make the whole larger than it need to be, about 50% in all directions, this loosens the soil around the root ball encouraging exploratory roots and gives you the opportunity to amend the soil with compost or whatever else you may be lacking. Lastly make sure that you have something cold to drink waiting in the fridge, when this project is over you’ll have earned it.
3. Perennials in the fall: After covering shrubs and trees in the previous section some of you may be wondering “What about perennials?” There are definitely some points of overlap between the two seemingly very different types of plants. Fall is an ideal time to get new perennials into your garden for the same reasons as before, with fall being a transition time where new plants can get an advantage.
Regarding maintenance there are a few interesting things that can be addressed in the fall: some of your perennials can be left standing after they have gone dormant. The reason for this is two fold: standing perennials, even in winter, can create a much needed bird habitat and food supply, additionally leaving the stems guarantees that you will know the exact location of your plants if you plan on doing any digging later.
Conversely, if your garden is prone to disease and or pests removing the old foliage can greatly help with those problems. If you opt for this make sure you wait until the plant is fully dormant (after approx. 3 hard frosts) and leave about two inches above ground to protect the crown. This can lead to a much cleaner overall look for your garden. There is no concretely correct answer so do what appeals to you the most. 4. Cold Weather Preparation: Winter can wreak havoc in the garden, especially if you have sensitive plants.
First things first, do as much preparation as you can in the fall. I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure your pipes are insulated from the cold. The foam is inexpensive, but even old rags and duct tape will do in a pinch. Take nozzles off hoses, lay them out straight, and unhook them from the bib, this makes clearing ice build-up a breeze. Additionally a trickle of water can be left running on the coldest nights to help prevent freezing at the source. Freshen mulch to help protect the roots on plants that can’t handle the cold as well (frost cloth for the particularly susceptible) and get into the habit of checking the weather, it is important to know when you’ll need to pull in those tender members of your collection or cover your citrus.
On the topic of citrus, many of us have heard to use light strands to add warmth with the mercury dips too low, but make sure that you use the old style, incandescent bulbs, LED’s are great for their efficiency, but not for warmth, less energy means less heat is given off and LED’s run quite cool.
BULBS!!: Now is the time to get your hands on bulbs. It’s an easy investment for an unforgettable spring showing. But be aware, all bulbs are different, make sure you know the requirements of your selection: things like bulb planting depth, amount of cold weather they need to develop properly, volume of organic matter in the soil, water sensitivities. All of these things play an important role in the success or failure of your bulb beds, take the time to get educated and the reward will be worth it.
Spiced Hot Apple Cider: Just in case you need a reward after all this work.
What You'll Need: 8 cups fresh apple cider or apple juice 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg 4 whole cloves 1 orange, cut into slices 8 cinnamon sticks 1 cup sweetened whipped cream How to Make It:
Heat the cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and orange slices in a 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the mixture is hot, stirring occasionally.
Strain the cider into a heatproof pitcher or individual mugs. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and whipped cream, if desired.
Recipe courtesy of the folks at Campbell’s Kitchen