Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Seed Planting

By Kent Higgins

Another phase of fall planting often not appreciated is the sowing of seeds of hardy perennials and hardy annuals, preferably in a cold frame in late November. Under these conditions they will not germinate until spring, but you will have so much more time. Why not use Thanksgiving to do it?

The seeds of all herbaceous and all woody plants, most of which must have a low temperature treatment over winter, can be sown during November or early December for spring germination. These include flowering dogwood, privet, cotoneaster, golden-rain tree, cork tree, Washington thorn, bitter sweet, Russian olive, magnolia, and hundreds of others. But it is necessary to remove the pulp before sowing the seeds or the germination may be delayed a year. Any of the viburnums may be sown, but quite often they will take another whole year before they germinate.

Watering may be necessary. If there is not ample moisture in the soil, apply the equivalent of one inch of rainfall per week as long as the plants are growing or possibly half that much after the leaves have dropped. This is particularly important with evergreens and broadleaf evergreens as well as herbaceous perennials.

Fall planting, like spring planting, calls for proper soil preparation like caring for hawaiian umbrella tree. This means the incorporation of ample organic matter and complete commercial fertilizer thoroughly mixed with the soil in planting hawaiian umbrella tree and other plants. It is far better to mix these materials with the soil than to kid yourself but not the plant by just putting a little layer in the bottom of the hole. And while we are mentioning fertilizing, it's a good idea to fertilize your lawn early this fall with a complete fertilizer such as a 4-12-4, 5-10-5, 6-10-4 to pep up the grass now that the weeds are not growing.

Make Use of Compost

Fall planting calls for the use of compost. All of the material that was put on the pile up through May and possibly even through June will be sufficiently decomposed; with very little effort it will break up in shoveling and spading so it can be mixed with the soil. It does not have to be fine powder. You are getting far more for your money by using the coarser material. My own compost pile made up largely of oak leaves, many of them put in the pile during April and May, will be used down to the last drop before the new leaves are put on the pile this fall. Every new flower bed receives an inch layer plus a complete fertilizer to be spaded in as deep as I can spade, another inch layer, a second spading; another layer possibly a half an inch, a third spading. By then you don't even need a trowel, although it's hard on finger nails.

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