Fall Perennial Planting
Planting in the fall can save you a lot of money while also giving plants a jump start next spring! Plants that establish strong roots during the fall will come back bigger and stronger in the spring time.
However, fall planting requires careful consideration and attention to detail from the gardener. The trick is to give fall plantings a little extra care to help them get established before the really cold weather sets in.
Here are four things you can do to help your plants get established:
At the time of planting, be sure to use an inoculant specifically formulated for perennials, trees and shrubs. These products will help the plant to start establishing roots before all of the foliage dies back. We recommend using an inoculant over a root stimulator this late in the season so you can avoid giving any extra nitrogen to the plant before it goes in to dormancy.
Mulch helps to retain soil moisture while also protecting roots from sudden changes in temperature. We recommend using 3″ of a good quality mulch to keep plants protected. Make sure that mulch does not contact the bark of woody perennials.
Protect Plants from Early Freezes
Keep an eye on the weather and cover the plants when the temperatures dip below freezing throughout September and October. This is most important for perennials. Trees do not need to be blanketed, but bark wrap should be used on all young trees to protect the trunks from splitting during our freezing and thawing cycles. When covering perennials, use heavy fabric or plastic and prop it up so that it is close to, but does not touch the plant (Plastic that touches the plant during a freeze can actually do more damage.) Be sure the covering goes all the way to the ground and cover the edges with soil or mulch so that it will trap heat from the soil.
To support adequate root growth, plants will need to be watered regularly in the fall. Keep your soil evenly moist, but not soggy, through the fall time. Remember to monitor your plants regularly! A plant that crisps up due to lack of water in the fall time is not likely to survive the winter. When the plant goes dormant, they will require less frequent watering, but will also need to be watered throughout the winter. Remember that desiccation is the result of cold weather plus dry soil. For more details on winter watering, visit our Blog.
Growing Garlic in the Pikes Peak Region
- Garlic cloves are best planted between November and April, although you will generally get a bigger and better crop if you plant in the autumn. If planted between October 1 and November 15, the clove will have a chance to develop some roots before it goes dormant for the winter. Here at Rick’s, we think the ideal time to plant is at the end of October.
- Separate cloves from the bulb and plant root side down (pointed side up) about 2-4 inches deep, 6-8 inches apart in the row and 12-18 inches between rows. A bulb planter used for tulips and daffodils is an excellent tool to get several cloves planted quickly.
- Mulching 6-12 inches of straw or mulch in mid to late November, when the ground begins to freeze, will ensure the garlic will survive the cold temperatures.
- In early spring as the ground thaws, look for the green tips beginning to emerge underneath the you mulch.
- Fertilize in spring with a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 (3 lb per 100 sq. feet), or an organic complete fertilizer at roughly twice the rate, as usually they contain roughly half the nitrogen as chemical fertilizers.
- As half of the leaves begin to die-back in July, harvest the garlic by gently pulling on the stalk while prying beneath the bulb with a trowel. The clove you planted last fall will have turned into a multi-cloved bulb. Gently shake off the dirt but do not wash before storage. Don’t wait until all the leaves have died-back or your bulbs will not store well.
- Cure the garlic by hanging in a warm, dry, well ventilated place.
- Give the bulbs another shake after two weeks of curing to remove more soil, cut off the stalks of hardneck varieties and store them in a cool, dry place. For softneck varieties, you can leave the stalks attached if you wish to braid and hang them for ease of use and aesthetics in the kitchen – but you may also cut off the stalks and store them with the hardneck varieties.
- Save some of your biggest bulbs for planting next fall.