Tuesday, September 28, 2021

What To Get In The Ground Right Now

A hand holding a trowel over a hole. The view is from the ground up.
In every garden across North America, summer crops are over and it’s time to consider what’s next. If your enthusiasm has continued unabated, you should get your fall garden going. If you’re ready to take a break but would like something to look forward to in the spring (and perhaps jump-start your garden fever), this is the perfect time to plant some bulbs. Or you could do both.

Before you plant anything, make sure to give your soil some love. Although this is always the thing to do, it is especially important after a long growing season. All those beautiful summer blooms and vegetables demanded a lot from the soil, it’s only fair to give it something back before asking for more. We have lots of excellent soil amendments and microbial inoculants that can pep up your dirt. And if you want specifics before adding anything, we have soil testing options as well. But really, it’s not all that complicated: get in there and work the soil some, add amendments or inoculants and water well. This short article explains these three steps. Even if you are done gardening for the year, you should still treat your dirt to some Beneficial Nematodes. They will go in and clean out any grubs that are trying to overwinter in your soil.

A little blond boy watering a raised bed with a silver metal watering can. Photo by Filip Urban on Unsplash.
What you plant in your fall garden is naturally dependent upon your geographical location. However, all but the most northern of climates can still squeeze out some vegetables. In fact, there are many delicious vegetable options whose flavors and colors are heightened by cold weather. If the onset of frost is somewhat fluid in your area and you’re worried about committing to a garden, you may want to plant your veggies in containers that can either be moved into the shelter of a covered area or moved directly inside. You could also plant in raised beds - they are more easily protected from the effects for cold weather than in-ground gardens. Here are some excellent choices for plants that grow quickly and can be grown in-ground, in raised beds, or in containers (for more container ideas, check out this article):

Different types of lettuce growing in black earth.
Lettuce – There are too many scrumptious lettuce varieties to list here, and they all grow quickly enough for a fall harvest. Many of these varieties also able to tolerate light frost. Other salad-type vegetables like arugula, kale and mustard greens are also good fall choices.

Spinach – The savoy varieties of this plant are especially fond of cooler weather, but all of them will provide a delicious addition to your fall meals. Since spinach can grow in full sun or partial shade, it should not suffer unduly if you have to move it under some type of shelter part-way through its growing cycle.

A hand holding some red radishes with soil, roots and green tops still attached.
 Radishes – These crispy treats are made for fall gardens – they don’t appreciate hot weather and can grow in as little as 20 days. They do well outside, but you can also grow them on a bright windowsill and pluck them out as they become ready.

 Vegetable gardens are not the only kind of fall garden you can plant. If you enjoy flower gardens, there is no reason you can’t have one into the fall. Everything from chrysanthemums to pansies can provide color for you alongside your changing trees. This article from Good Housekeeping highlights 30 different flowers to have in a fall garden.

Purple hyacinths blooming from bulbs in the garden.
Now is the time to plant bulbs for spring blossoms. This is the perfect avenue for someone who is doesn’t want to deal with often unpredictable fall weather and would just prefer to plant for the warmer days to come. Planting bulbs is a little like planning a surprise party for yourself – choose which ones you like the best, pick the place you want them to be and wait for them to pop up when the time is right. Here are some of the most beautiful treats you can plant right now:

Hyacinths – These are some of the earliest of spring flowers to peek out. According to this article on the planting of and care for hyacinth bulbs, they appear sometime after crocus and before tulips. Whenever they show up, their lavish pink, purple, red or blueish-purple blooms will be a highlight in any garden.

Tulips – If you are considering flower bulbs and trying to decide which ones, just add “tulips” to your list. Within their vast variety of styles, shapes and colors will be something that will be perfect for your garden. Picking which one will be the hard part, though, as they are all spectacular. Here is a short article on just some of them. 

Tall stalks of purple allium tilted in the wind.
Alliums – If you want some long-lasting drama in your garden and are ready to expand out of the traditional tulip-daffodil- crocus type of flower, the allium could be just right for you. These plants are part of the onion-garlic family, but their tall stalks and globe-shaped flowers are very different from those underground-growing cousins. Alliums can last many weeks in the garden and are favorites of pollinators. Here’s more on them.

Now I’d like to make a pitch for something that is both a relative of the allium, a vegetable, a bulb and a seed – garlic. If you plant some now, you will be able to harvest delectable, fresh garlic in July. But, you don’t have it plant it as a bulb. You can actually plant individual cloves as seeds – and each one has the potential to grow into a full-sized bulb replete with many cloves. For garlic beginners, it’s probably best to plant bulbs specifically cultivated for this purpose; but you can plant from grocery store garlic. This article will give you some help with this.

A Simpson's cartoon clip. Bart asks "What are you planting?" Homer says "A little bit of everything" and opens his hand to show a random assortment of things, including a gummi bear and a piece of candy corn.
Whatever you decide you want to do with your fall garden, just being outside on these cooler days is rewarding in and of itself. Especially here in southern Arizona, where we always eagerly await summer’s end.

Take Care.

Submitted by Pam

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