Fall is good time to plant flowering or herbaceous perennials

By Jennie Hagen September 27, 2011 08:31 pm

Although the damaging frosts of fall are not far off, there is still time to plant a few hardy greens for salads and stir-fry, providing of course that you are able to protect them later in the season.

Many lettuce varieties thrive on sprouting when the soil is warm, so if you can manipulate your ground, even through something as simple as a raised bed that catches early morning sun or small plastic-framed hoop housing, the benefits can be realized as you enjoy fresh green in just a few weeks.

Spinach, a hardy cool weather crop, is available in a variety of sizes and leaf types, some for fresh salads or stir-fry.

While beet greens may not reach a sizeable yield, it’s a good thing to try if you have extra seeds.

Toss in those extra chard seeds and you may still have time for one more picking before frost. In some areas chard will over-winter if it is given protection and it can readily be the first green vegetable to sprout in the spring.

I have had several readers say they sow lettuce in the late fall here in Union County and then after the ground freezes they lightly mulch it. First thing next spring when the ground is thawing, the mulch is removed and the lettuce sprouts quickly.  I’ve never tried this method but others have had success so it may be a good idea.

Fall is the perfect time to plant any flowering or herbaceous perennial, shrub or young tree. For trees and shrubs planted this past growing season, don’t forget to water them thoroughly prior to the ground freezing, which typically occurs in our area about Thanksgiving time.

I would not recommend planting after the second week of October, there is not enough time prior to ground freeze for young roots to get established.

If you haven’t gotten your garlic in the ground, do so now!

The window is fast closing on our growing season. The key to protecting crops or plants of any kind grown in our area is to mulch after the ground freezes. Your goal here is to keep the ground frozen around your plants until complete thaw next spring. If you are using straw mulch around newly planted young trees, remember that you need to leave a small “donut” between the mulch and the trunk. If straw mulch is applied all the way to the trunk, it gives small rodents perfect opportunity to girdle your tree during the winter when they may be burrowing in the straw. Just keep it away from the trunk by several inches and it should be fine.

Harvesting in our own garden is done only in the early morning hours this time of year. The wasps and yellow jackets are too intense after the air warms up and we have to compete with them for the peaches and tomatoes, or at least the ones the deer haven’t eaten. Hopefully next year we will have a taller fence.

Until next time, happy fall gardening.


Jennie Lu Hagen is a La Grande gardener.