The Q&A Archives: Fall Planting

Question: I recently purchased a house and have not had time to plan a garden for next year. How late can I plant bulbs and early spring vegatables before pushing the season too far? Is there any special garden preparation to "hold" it until ready for planting?

Answer: Spring blooming bulbs should be planted in the fall, preferably between mid October to around Thanksgiving for your area. This is the proper time for these bulbs to go into the ground so you still have plenty of time for those. As far as what you can do now to prepare the area, there is plenty you can to in terms of getting a head start. The first thing I would suggest is to have a soil test performed so you will know exactly what you have to work with. Soil tests can let you know the areas where your soil needs improvement and the results usually contain information on how to achieve the desired changes. It is much easier to correct the problems before you have wasted an entire gardening season. Check with your County Extension Service about having a soil test performed. These tests are usually free or very reasonably priced and now is a great time to have one performed as this is usually the lab's "down time". You can reach your agent at phone #216-397-6000. Regardless of soil test results, it is a great idea to start working organic matter such as compost, composted cow manure, or leaf mould into the area you plant to garden in. Add in as much as you can, till it in if at all possible. Do this again in the spring and you will have a rich home waiting on the new plantings.

I'm not sure what you mean by early spring vegetables. You can plant garlic in the fall for harvesting next summer. Other than that, there aren't many vegetables you can plant in the fall. If you have, or can get, a cold frame, you can start some cool weather vegetable transplants in early spring to get a jump-start on the season. You might also build some raised beds, because these warm up faster than regular garden soil, meaning you can plant your spring crops a bit earlier.

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