Why fall is the perfect time to plant
We often think of spring as planting season - and it is, for good reason, but perhaps we don't realize that with the relief of cooler weather and still plenty of time before our first frost, fall is the perfect time to plant.
I get it. The freshness in the air as buds start to emerge on branches and happy birds hop across the grass, spring has a special allure for seasoned and new gardeners alike. I too enjoy flocking to nurseries and garden centers to gather up plants with the intention to bask in the warm sunshine.
Predictably, spring inspiration fades as the summer days heat up, and I wonder if it feels unnecessary and pointless to put effort into gardening as the year rounds to a close. Are we still feeling annoyed that our hydrangeas burnt to a crisp? Disappointed that our tomato plants were not as bountiful as we were hoping they would be? Frustrated that we spent money on plants that couldn't endure the scorching temperatures or died while we were on vacation?
For all of these reasons, fall gardening can be just as, if not more rewarding.
Cooler weather means there are lower water requirements, and it is easier for plants to become established. It takes longer for the soil surrounding plants to dry out since water is not as readily evaporated or absorbed as quickly into the plant's roots. This gives plants plenty of growing time in the fall sun, then time to rest in the evening hours. As an added benefit, predictable rain showers lower your time and monetary commitment to keeping plants alive.
Less heat often means there are less pests and diseases. Goodbye mosquitos, squash bugs, fire ants, powdery mildew and spider mites!
Fewer weeds are also a benefit, since warmer weather encourages them to grow. Moist, less compacted soil allows for easier removal, which in turn reduces the likelihood of seed reproduction and spread for many unwanted weeds, grasses and vines.
Many plants thrive in cooler weather - consider flowering plants such as: Chrysanthemums, Peony and Bee Balm; Leafy: Kale, cabbage, a variety of lettuces; and Root, such as carrots and radishes.
It bears mentioning that as a fall gardener, you are likely more available to keep up with your garden: there's much less chance of wanting to stay in the air conditioning to avoid getting overheated, and perhaps with vacation season behind us, you are also likely be home.
What are you waiting for? Grab your gardening gloves and head outside!