Get ready, get set, PLANT. I know you have heard it a hundred times but here in the Pacific Northwest fall is the best time for planting. There are a lot of good reasons to plant now. The soil is still warm so roots will still grow giving you a much larger plant next spring. The soil doesn’t get too cold until about late November. The fall rains have started so you don’t have to water or worry about the new plants getting too dried out or burned. Actually here the rains started right on cue. We had a very warm, dry summer and now rain and showers are in the forecast for the foreseeable future. The foreseeable future here means the 5th of July. Hopefully we won’t have a repeat of the heat this year.
One of the best reasons to plant now is that you can get great deals at most nurseries. Nurseries really don’t want to carry over plants until next year. In fact most of the big retail nurseries don’t have the space to do that so they need to move the plants out so they can bring in the next seasonal plants. Here at Old Goat Farm we closed the nursery for the winter on October 22nd so we are already closed for the season. Many small specialty nurseries close soon. By this time of year many of the plants are looking a little tired so less appealing to the buyer. The savvy gardener can look past the yellowing leaves and if you know the plant recognize a great deal. That plant may have been in the container all year so has a really well developed root system. Once in the ground you just wait until spring and have a beautiful specimen in your own garden. The alternative for the nurseryman is to either pot the plant up into a larger pot or divide it. This is good to a certain extent, because it’s good to have some stock for next year but it could also be overwhelming so why not pass on a few good bargains to your loyal customers? We did a few weeks ago and cleared out many plants at half price.
Another reason for fall planting to to add fall interest into your garden. There are still a lot of late season perennials available. If your garden seems to lack punch this time of year check out what looks good in nurseries or other gardens and if you see something really appealing, add that to your own garden. This is also a good time to check nurseries for fall color. Lots of people want to add Japanese maples or other colorful woody plants to their garden but aren’t sure which one. If you go to the nurseries now you can find out exactly what that tree or shrub will look like. When we decided to add 10 Japanese Maples to the Miller Garden we went to Well’s Media Nursery because they had a great selection and made our choice then. We didn’t buy them all at one time but we took notes of the ones we liked. Another handy little tip is to carry a small note pad when you go to a garden or nursery so you can remind yourself of something inspiring.
When planting make sure you leave room for the plant to grow. Add a little compost to the hole to encourage the root-growth and help with growth in the spring. For bulbs you can even add bulb booster but I wouldn’t recommend fertilizer for other plants because you don’t want to encourage the plant to start to grow when it should be going dormant.
The first year at Old Goat Farm we added a lot of fall color to the garden, mostly in the form of trees and shrubs. I love seeing all the color from inside the house looking out in the garden. When it’s raining that’s a lot more comfortable place to be. I’m kind of a lazy gardener so seeing big, colorful plants from my easy chair is much more appealing than planting little winter blooming pansies ( I do that too but don’t tell anyone). So enjoy the season and get out and plant.