Autumn, winter planting best for many
Posted: Tuesday, December 1, 2009 8:01 pm
By: By Jimmy Williams
Thanksgiving is, unfortunately, almost lost amongst the slam-bang push toward Christmas. This year, with the relatively late date of Thanksgiving, we jumped into Christmas almost before the turkey and ham settled.
What a shame. In this, the greatest country in the world (nobody else is even close), we hardly take a pause to be thankful, even on Thanksgiving, much less all the other 364 days of the year.
Gardeners can be thankful for the condition of the soil right now. It is abundantly blessed with plenty of moisture, making planting of everything from trees to bulbs far easier than it otherwise would be.
There is no better time to plant fully winter hardy woody plants than between now and freeze-up. Roots will have an opportunity to get established during the winter and will be far more able to stand severe drought than those of a similar specimen planted in spring.
Then, too, fall planting means less (or no) troublesome watering regimen for the next few months. Spring planted plants are almost immediately thrown to the drought dogs some years and almost constant watering is essential just for survival.
Despite the amenable condition of the soil this time of year, there is no license for slovenly planting. The addition of good stuff in the backfill around the root zone of the new prospect is as much a requirement now as in spring.
And, even with wet soil, it is a good idea to muddy in the new plant to have its roots thoroughly enmeshed and brought into solid contact with the amended soil in the planting hole.
Fall digging is important even when planting isn’t to be done until spring. A vegetable garden or annual or perennial bed will respond much better when fall turning is accomplished.
By leaving the soil in a rough condition, winter freezes and thaws will ameliorate it to amazing degree, even if it is heavy clay. By adding compost or natural fertilizers to the finished plot, the amendments will weather into the soil over winter. Then, just a moderate tilling in spring will put it in tip-top condition.
Bulb planting continues and, again, the wet soil is a blessing. With the coring tools commonly used to remove a cylinder of soil from the ground it is a cinch to put in several hundred bulbs in a day or less. With one person punching and another popping in the bulbs, the work goes very quickly.
From Poor Willie’s Almanack — Don’t fall down on your fall planting.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 12.1.09
Jimmy Williams, The Garden Path