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Homeowners Planting Guide for Fall 2016

autumn-915630_960_720It certainly still feels like summer outside but if you’re hoping for a fall garden this year, your planting window will soon be drawing to a close. Fall gardens are notoriously harder to maintain than spring gardens: less rain, more insects and high temperatures well into mid-September can all present a challenge for the novice (or even the expert!) gardener. If you’re hoping for a fall crop this year, read on for more information on planting and gardening over the next few months:

NOW. Clear your yard of leaves, sticks, dead summer plants and other debris. Leaves – especially wet ones – can suffocate new plant growth so clear out your garden before you plant anything for fall. And when you put all of your debris in the compost bin, you’ll have a great mix by the time you need it for spring planting!

NOW. Moisture is very important for fall planting. High temperatures and less rain can make it more difficult for seeds to really take hold. To ensure that they do, thoroughly soak the ground before planting and plant seeds about ¼” deeper than spring and summer vegetables. Deeper planting will help the seeds to stay moist while they grow.

NOW. In Middle Tennessee, the first frost is generally mid-October. To ensure that seeds and plants survive and thrive, make sure plants are almost to full maturity two weeks before this first frost date. So when purchasing seeds and plants, check the tags to see how many days from planting to first harvest. You may want to even give yourself an extra week’s cushion to be sure they’re safe; you’d hate to waste so much time and effort with one quick early October freeze!

NOW. Vegetables like beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, summer squash, green beans and tomatoes need warmer weather in order to survive so plant them now! If they’re still in the ground, they won’t survive the first frost that usually arrives in October.

SEPTEMBER. September is a great time to plant and transplant trees and perennials because of the mild temperatures. Winter annuals like pansies and violas also like to be planted this time of year. Go ahead and divide and replant hearty perennials and don’t forget to water them consistently and thoroughly for 2-3 weeks.

SEPTEMBER. Wait until the beginning of September to plant vegetables like collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, radish, spinach and turnip greens. They are much heartier and can survive a frost or two while still in the ground.

ONGOING. Remove weeds more often during the fall than you would in the spring. When it’s not raining on a daily basis, be sure to water 1-1.5 inches a week.

ONGOING. Because fall vegetables are more fragile, use a nitrogen fertilizer to help with growth.

What are you planting in your fall garden this year?

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