The Time to Plant is Now!

By Paul James

I’m no meteorologist, nor have I ever played one on TV. But I am a weather nerd, and the nerd in me says that the intense heat of summer and those awful heat indices of 110 or more are gone, to which I say good riddance. Because now we can all get back to the joys of digging in the dirt without the risk of heat stroke. So here’s a look at all the things you might want to consider planting, beginning this weekend.

Ornamentals

Fall is a fabulous time (and in many cases, the absolute best time) for planting darn near everything that grows, and especially trees, shrubs, and perennials. That’s because plants then have several weeks to develop a solid root system before winter arrives. As a result, they’re better prepared to start rapid new growth in spring.

Fescue and Rye

They’re called cool-season grasses for a reason, and the time to plant from seed is just around the corner. In fact, you could do so as early as this weekend, or you can sign up for my September 14 seminar on the subject and get all the info you need to successfully sow a super lawn. See “Events” for details.

Fall Veggies

Darn near everything you planted in spring can be planted again from seed in fall, including greens of all kinds – lettuce, spinach, kale, mustard greens, collards, and bok choy -- plus root crops such as carrots, radishes, beets, and turnips. And leave room for transplants of cole crops such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower. What makes fall veggie gardening so enjoyable is that temps are cooler, rainfall is more dependable, pests are fewer, and when kissed by a light frost, the veggies get sweeter and taste better.

Bulbs for Spring Color

We’re still several weeks away from planting time, but bulbs will be available for purchase soon, and it’s a good idea to buy them early since popular varieties sell out quickly. Just store them in a paper sack in your garage and they’ll be fine until it’s time to plant, which is typically anytime after October 1.

Annuals and Perennials for Fall Color

The list of annuals and perennials that offer great fall color is a long one, but mums (which you can grow as annuals or perennials) are arguably the most popular. Remember that most annuals can tolerate a light freeze whether planted in the ground or in containers, so chances are you’re looking at several weeks if not a couple of months or more of color. And speaking of color, pansies should be available by the middle of September.