On fall planning

Half bushel (with chickens):  good year for apples here, 7 bushels out of one tree alone

The one redeeming thing about the end of the growing season is that it is the end.  If your harvests were banner or bupkis, Next Year remains perfect–and perfectly successful–due mainly to your experiences with this current one.

So, onward, planning.

Should I remind you again that now’s the best time to make garden beds?  (I am such a nag, I know…that, and I am prone to ignoring my own advice.)  The winter’s freeze/thaw action will sweeten that soil, erasing some of the damage that making the beds does to soil structure.   (Tip:  feeding those soil creatures with lots of compost then tucking them in under a thick bed of mulch will make the new soil quite a hospitable place to the microorganisms, worms and insects that help make soil fertile.  Feed them to feed yourself.)  You can also save yourself some shoveling by doing a lasagna bed:  atop a patch of lawn, put down cardboard or newspaper, rake on some leaves, grass clippings; throw down some compost and maybe a touch of soil to hold the whole thing down…next spring you can plant in it.

One of a dozen new trees in the side 40

Also, now’s the time when many garden supply stores are trying to unload unsold products, like fruit trees.  One of the biggest obstacles to the success of young fruit trees and fruiting bushes is inattentive watering during their first year:  when getting established, the trees require weekly waterings…something a forgetful gardener might miss if she’s planted her trees in the spring (trust me here).  Planting them in the fall is actually easier.  Trees quickly become dormant, and fall/winter/spring precipitation will eliminate most of the need to water.

We’ve recently had a prolonged Indian Summer with its deep blue, perfectly clear skies and wonderful exuberant colors on the remaining leaves.  The leaves literally rain down:  all windows being wide open, we hear them pinging the house’s metal roofs ticktocktick.  We wait for them all to fall, perhaps not quite so patiently, before we do the last lawn mowing.  This one is the best for the compost pile:  so many mulched-up leaves, so much long grass, so few weed seeds.    It’s a great garden mulch too…and even those new trees could use a touch of the stuff.

I like the pace of the garden in the fall; I like fall clean-up.  There’s something satisfying about knowing I don’t need to weed for the next few months ahead…that, and my spring garden still looks perfect….

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7 responses to “On fall planning

  1. As a former forester, I can attest to the wisdom in fall tree planting. Trees typically put on root growth in the fall, so if you plant early enough, the roots (which are usually damaged when the tree is first dug up for sale) get a chance to recover and stay balanced with the demands of the top of the tree. The growth hormones which trigger growth in the tree top are also stored in root tips, which are typically trimmed during digging, so allowing new tips to grow before the top growth starts in spring makes this work even better. The downside is that the window of opportunity tends to be narrower in the fall.

  2. Thanks for the tip of buying trees on sale in the fall… I love to bargain hunt!
    And thank you, David, for the planting advice. It’s good to know that I’ll be doing the right thing for the little tree(s) as well. =)
    I guess I’m going shopping now. =D

  3. Good advice, I have definitely been looking ahead, to the point of ignoring the work to be done in the NOW. The weather has been so lovely but also keeping things alive when I should be pulling and prepping for winter. I shouldn’t complain, ripe tomatoes in mid-October, despite their pathetic appearance, are kind of nice–and I can’t bring myself to rip them out yet. This weekend!

  4. Random question, do you know what would be the best technique to deal with your soil when there’s an invasive plant with large taproots? I want to use the space for food, and have every intention of chopping every green shoot of that friggin’ trumpet vine, yet there are HUGE taproots through the garden that makes me wonder if it’s worth it. Maybe I should build raised beds? Put a layer of something down and build up? Just plant around it? I’m not quite sure what to do, as I’ve heard that the only way to get rid of this neighborhood-wide invader would be to use chemicals. :-\

  5. You make the end of season clean up so peaceful and rewarding! Thanks for sharing about the clearence fruit trees, I always thought they would be worse off. Now I can indulge the cheapness in me!

  6. we are finally moving to the 10 acres we have been looking for this past 4 years….since we will have a ton of boxes, I need to know: Does the lasagna method really work if you use moving boxes (the heavy duty kind)? We are a little doubtful about the thick stuff decomposing, but would love the head start on a garden.

  7. Thanks, David! Wonderful info (and it’s always great when people chime in thinking my information is actually, you know, informative) and hopeful, too. It is just you think “arbor day” you think that’s the best time for most trees, when it’s not.

    Happy shopping, Karen. I can’t resist a tree sale myself.

    Sara, I know, mine haven’t been ripped out fully either. Keep hoping the tomatoes will all ripen at once and spare their own early downfall. But yes, do get a tree or two if you can…!

    Dea, is there any way you can do a barrier to the roots? You know, bury some edging or something? Otherwise you’re just going to have to remove them all in the bed now and continue to keep an eye out to rip out any new sprawling vine. I have bamboo grass (a nasty 15′ tall thing) that wants to take over both greenhouses and I almost let it with one…it required a near-professional effort to remove the crap though.

    TWH, you’re welcome! Yes, for once, sales really work for us and not the store!

    Jocelyn, well, good question. Here’s my experience (and congratulations, by the way!): As long as you remove all the packing tape, with time, all evidence of cardboard, flimsy or thick, will eventually go away. I have used it both in lasagna beds and to line paths of my gardens and it’s that damned tape that keeps coming up…the beds themselves and even the paths now have wonderful soil. But it would really depend what kind of stuff you throw on top of the cardboard. If you can get it to rot up quickly by piling lots of soil, half-finished compost and straw and hot grass clippings, and then keep it kind of damp, the plant roots should be able to punch right through the cardboard this spring.

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