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Did you know that the best time to plant trees, shrubs, vines and most perennials on Whidbey is during the months of September, October and November? The soil is still warm, the temperatures are cool and the rain (thankfully) begins. Planting in the fall cuts way down on the need to water, and allows the plant to slowly establish a strong root system underground while everything above ground is moving into a restful dormant phase. By the time spring arrives, the plant is well rooted and ready to blast into a new growing season.
At the time of planting, be sure to work in plenty of organic matter such as compost or steer manure. This, and a handful or two of a good quality organic fertilizer with probiotics will go a long way toward establishing the roots, improving the soil condition and encouraging healthy microbial action.
Fall Check List:
* Clean up debris from vegetable beds, dig in extra compost, plant winter vegetables, or sow winter cover crop seed on beds that are to remain fallow.
* Plant the spring blooming bulbs: daffodil, tulip, crocus, allium, iris, hyacinth, anemone, fritillaria. Pansies and Forget-Me-Nots are perfect for planting over bulbs. Don’t forget the bulb fertilizer...it makes a big difference.
* Plant garlic, shallots and some onion varieties. Select a bed that has not grown plants in the allium family for at least three years to break any disease cycles. These tasty bulbs are fun and easy to grow.
* Do some light pruning and shaping on summer blooming deciduous shrubs. Fruit trees can be pruned after harvest. Take the time to learn to do this properly through classes or seminars, or hire someone who has had actual training in pruning. Always check the background and references of anyone you hire for this kind of work. Improper pruning creates worse problems.
* Withhold fertilizer from container fuchsias and geraniums if you plan to winter them over. It’s time to let them slow down and harden off.
* Plan for fall color in the garden. Excellent trees for our area include, Katsura, Liquidambar, Red Maple, Ginkgo, Vine Maple, Japanese Maples, Korean Dogwood, Oxydendron (Sourwood), Parrotia, Stewartia, Amelanchier....Good deciduous shrubs: Euonymus (Burning Bush), Hamamelis (Witch Hazel), Aronia (Chokecherry), Enkianthus, Fothergilla, Kerria, Blueberry (the one called ‘Toro” is dynamite!), Smoke Bush, Oak-Leaf Hydrangea, Nandina, many Viburnums, many Spiraeas...the list is long.
* Groom and wash houseplants that have been outdoors for the summer. It’s time to bring them in without any unwanted house guests.
* Install, reseed and feed the lawn. Cooler temperatures are ideal for good root development of the lawn. The fall feeding is the most important one of the year. Cooler temperatures also stimulate lawn growth and another mowing may be necessary.
* Transplant trees and shrubs. As soon as plants show fall color or exhibit signs of dormancy, you can start transplanting. Be sure plants are well watered a couple of days before and immediately after transplanting. Liquid seaweed extract works wonders in eliminating transplant shock.
* Transplant and divide perennials if needed. Some perennials are best to plant and transplant in the spring, such as Lavender, Rosemary, Santolina, Lithodora, and some later summer blooming perennials.
* Look for dried pods, berries, hips, cones, flowers and twigs to collect for holiday decorating.
...and if you do all these things this fall, you certainly are one energetic gardener...hats off to you!
Bayview Farm & Garden
Farm & Garden