Editor's note: This is the first installment of a new bi-weekly column called Garden Guru, in which local gardener Amy Williams writes about gardening topics and answers gardening-related questions from community members.
Hey Garden Guru,
I’ve noticed a few fall gardens sprouting up in the last few weeks. With my busy schedule, I’m worried I’ve missed the opportunity to plant our fall garden. Am I too late, or is there anything I can still plant?
Late in Lazybrook
Dear Late in Lazybrook,
I think we can all relate to a busy schedule. Not to worry, I have good news: You’re not too late!
There are plenty of things you still have an opportunity to plant for a fall and winter garden. This is also a great time to prep for spring. There is so much you’re right on time for with this question, so let’s dive in.
If you want to start now with pre-sprouted seedlings (the small plant starts you’ll buy from a nursery) for our mild winter climate, I recommend broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens and collard greens seedlings. Although many gardeners in our area may have started these six weeks ago, yours will still flourish and these cultivars are hardy enough to withstand a light freeze (which our area may see before they reach their full maturity).
I recommend visiting Wabash Feed & Garden, 4537 N. Shepherd Dr., for your plant starts as they are knowledgeable about which varieties grow best in our climate.
When picking out your plants, look for larger, healthy seedlings free of yellow or brown leaves, and those with at least three to four “true leaves.” True leaves have the appearance of the plant you are planting as opposed to the narrow, more rounded sprouting leaf.
If you are looking to grow from seeds, I recommend starting with carrots, English peas, radishes, beets, lettuce and spinach. With the mild winter that is predicted this year, you can even plant kale and Swiss chard from seeds if you are unable to find seedlings.
You can still grow herbs, too. Herbs like cilantro, mint, lavender and dill do well in cooler temperatures and, remember, rosemary and sage are perennials which will also survive a light freeze.
Fall is also garden maintenance time.
Besides planting, there are a few upkeep tasks you will want to complete now so that your spring garden will be successful.
First, you will want to cut back any perennials that have died in your garden. Note that I recommend an exception to this when it comes to the sunflowers, Black-eyed Susans and echinacea. These will be a food source for birds and squirrels during the winter months, so please leave them.
Now is the perfect time to plant bulbs like tulips, crocus and daffodils for spring. Luckily, we do still have a little time for bulbs as heat is their biggest enemy. You do, however, want to make sure that they are in the ground before the first frost.
If you're looking for a wildflower garden in the spring, you’ll want to plant those seeds now. We all love photo opportunities with bluebonnets in the spring time, so make sure and get those seeds in the ground this fall!
Lastly, I recommend mulching your garden this month before it gets too cold in December. Not only will this protect the roots, but it will also help to maintain moisture levels and keep you from having to weed during the cold months. I highly recommend putting your fallen leaves into your garden beds versus bagging them. Not only is this better for wildlife, but it provides beneficial microbes and is a great source of carbon to balance out nitrogen.
See you in the garden!
Do you have questions for the Garden Guru? Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.