Start now to plan your fall garden

By Staff
Charlie Nardozzi, Gardening with Charlie
National Gardening Association
The end of summer is near, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the gardening season. In most areas of the country, late summer is the ideal time to plan for your fall garden. You can plant a variety of trees, shrubs, flowers and even vegetables now to extend the gardening season well beyond Columbus Day.
There are great advantages to fall planting. “Trees and shrubs have a better chance for success when planted during the cool fall weather,” says Dave Meder, general manager of Home &Garden Showplace, which represents more than 250 garden centers across the country. Plus, “Creating a fall container garden is a fun and exciting way to keep the landscape inviting and attractive until the holidays,” he says.
Here are some tips for expanding your gardens this fall:
Enjoy a seasonal shopping spree. Fall is a great time to buy and plant trees and shrubs. In most parts of the country, fall’s cooler temperatures and warm soils allow trees and shrubs to put on good root growth before winter and be ready to grow come spring. Plus, many nurseries are trying to unload stock before winter, so plants are often on sale. The only caveat is for gardeners in the far north: They should avoid planting evergreens in fall since the plants won’t have enough time to get established and their needles may dry out during winter’s cold winds.
Plant a second wave. Most gardeners are just trying to keep up with the summer harvest, and few realize it’s also a great time to plant for fall. Greens such as kale, mustard, lettuce and spinach; root crops such as beets, carrots and radishes; and cole crops such as broccoli and cauliflower all can be planted in late summer for a fall harvest. They will burst to life during the cool fall days and can withstand a light frost.
With a little luck and cold protection, you can be harvesting fresh vegetables until Christmas. Some plants, such as spinach, can be planted in fall, protected all winter with a floating row cover, and harvested in early spring as soon as the weather warms.
Extend your annuals. While heat-loving annuals are winding down by the end of summer, cool-season annual flowers, such as snapdragons, pansies and primulas, can be planted now for a fall flower show. Like cool-loving vegetables, these flowers can take a light frost and make it through winter with protection.
Change out your containers. Late summer is a perfect time to change out your containers for fall. Not only can you plant cool-loving flowers, herbs and vegetables in containers, you can supplement them later in fall with cuttings of evergreens such as holly and mountain laurel. The red berries of hollies lend a festive appearance to your container. The beauty of containers is you can move them to the sunniest location in fall and even bring them in during cold nights to extend their lives.

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