What Grows Under Your Nose?… Tulips!
With the arrival of my first catalogue of the selection of fall planting spring blooming flowers and shrubs, a call to my family in Alberta who are expecting their first frost and the cool and blustery day at the market on Saturday, I find myself thinking about fall. This is one of the busiest times for an avid gardener with planing and planting and clean up ahead to consider. Although we, hopefully have a considerable amount of time to get to these chores they are none the less coming and plans should be made. Most of the plants we see in the nurseries in spring looking robust and very attractive are best left till fall to plant as is dividing and transplanting the ones we already have in our yards and gardens that have overcome there spots. With the exception of evergreens including some broad leafed ones like Rhododendrons, Holly and Box Woods these all take a long time to develop roots that can sustain them through the cold and wind which will dehydrate them and cause damage and possible failure to survive most plants prefer a fall planting. Peonies should only be planted in the fall and many others that are best planted in the fall may succumb to the heat and dryness of the summer if left to spring planting. This fall planting is usually done six to eight weeks prior to the ground freezing. So as not to cause undo panic this should still be a fair amount of time away for us lucky residents of this area of BC. But planing should not be left for too long as the time does swiftly pass. When planting our bulbs and perennials the goal in mind should be good root development not vegetative growth that will be damaged by wind and cold weather. Fertilizer will not be required at this time as most plants and bulbs will be well stocked with the nutrients needed for proper growth and development. The other advantage to planting in the next few weeks will be the cooler temperatures, meaning less evaporation of the moisture in the soil and hopefully some rain which will bring additional moisture and nutrients to the soil. Also at this time disease and pests will be on the decline which will make our hard work more successful. For successful fall planting the soil temperature should be about 55 degrees and this can occur from mid September until late October depending on Mother Nature who manages to keep that information to herself. I continue to use Halloween as my final date and have done well so far. Trees, shrubs and sod also are best planted during this cooler time of year as root development is what is required to make for the best spring results. Bulbs like Tulips , Daffodil, Crocus, Hyacinth, and Asiatic Lilies all need a period of cold in order to bloom. These bulbs should be soaked in water overnight to be planted the next morning. For those who have trouble with deer bulbs such as Daffodil, Hyacinths and Allium should be considered as well as perennials like Astilbe. Rodents like chipmunks and squirrels will be attracted to disturbed areas and as you plant they are encouraged to dig. They too do not like Daffodils, Allium, Hyacinth and Garlic, also covering the area that you have planted with bark mulch or leaves to make it look undisturbed will help as well as sprinkling minced garlic and ground chilli peppers this too will discourage them. For those who have had trouble with Voles, Moles and other underground bulb eaters but would still love to have Tulips in spring, you may consider planting your bulbs in trenches that are lined with a couple of layers of chicken wire or hardware cloth. Lay the wire in a trench, plant and then cover the surface area with another layer which can be removed when the plant breaks ground in spring. You can also mold the wire into a basket shape and plant susceptible bulbs within. Perennial plants that are planted in pots should be lowered into the ground as well, they need not be removed from their pots and all plantings should be kept well watered until very cold. Mulch at this time also will protects the plants until they begin to show growth in spring. Although it is only time to start planning these moves it is wise to have a plan as fall clean up will also be upon us and time and daylight will become shorter!
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