As surprising as it may be for the casual gardener, fall in Dutchess County, NY, is in fact, a great time for plantings. Mild weather and fertile soil from a summer of amped up bioprocesses make fall a pleasant planting period for both gardeners and plants. While in the spring and summer, plants prioritize energy to their leaves to maximize photosynthesis, planting in the fall encourages deep root growth as plants seek nutrients from below. Most gardeners assume spring to be the perfect time to plant, but in actual fact, the soil may still retain some of its winter chill. The high levels of rainfall and soggy soil in the spring can also make planting difficult - another good argument for planting in fall.
To make the best of your fall plantings, get them planted at least six weeks before the first expected frost. Once frost takes over, planting becomes nigh on impossible. So act quickly!
While planting flowers in the fall is not ideal, you can ensure a colorful garden throughout the season by including fall blooming perennials during your spring or summer planting. The Aster, for example, is native to the north eastern United States and blossoms in the late summer to early fall. The flowers come in a range of colors including light pink, indigo, violet and purple. The Toad Lily is another great fall bloomer with a bell-shaped flower deep purple in color. Toad Lilies are hardy plants and require very little maintenance when situated in the shade with moist, but not soggy soil. Another attractive fall perennial is the Golden Rod which is characterized by its finely textured, bright yellow flowers. Planted in conjunction with your fall vegetable garden, the bright color and high pollen levels will attract harmful insects and animals away from your vegetables, leaving them safe to flourish. Related: Landscaping Essentials for Beautiful Curb Appeal.
Trees and shrubs
The deep root growth triggered in fall plantings is ideal for ensuring strong and healthy shrubs and saplings. Shrubs planted in the early fall quickly develop a strong rooting system to allow them to survive the harsh winter ahead. While root growth in trees is generally slower, the head start is also beneficial for their development. Early fall is the ideal time for the planting of both to allow the roots to establish before that first frost.
Some vegetables that enjoy fall planting include kale, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, and chard. The cooler weather is believed to enhance their flavor and keeps them in their vegetative states longer, leading to larger, riper heads and full, tender leaves. Vegetables do require high amounts of nutrients to produce the best possible crop, so the fertility of the soil will need to be maintained throughout the season with the addition of compost or soil fertilizers. Depending on rainfall, a regular watering of once a week should suffice to keep the soil moist and your budding vegetables well hydrated. There are occasion, daily watering is necessary. Ask a professional for the right answer.
Plantings may need to be staggered in order to accommodate their varying harvest times, but with some careful planning, a clever gardener can get easily get 3-4 yields from their fall veggie garden before the winter finally arrives.