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Fall Planting: Getting a Head Start on Spring

October 28, 2014

Some gardeners plant seedlings in mid-summer for a fall harvest, and some plant seeds or seedlings in the fall for a summer harvest.  But not many gardeners realize that you can plant in the fall for an early spring crop.

garlicOne popular fall crop is garlic.  Depending on what time the garlic seed goes in the ground, it will either send up vegetative growth or lay dormant until spring. If the garlic seed is planted in early to mid-fall, it will start to germinate and send up its first leaves. These green leaves will remain above ground through winter cold and snow, and then continue to grow as the spring days get longer and warmer.  If the garlic is planted later in fall, it will germinate in the spring.  A few other cold-hardy plants can make it through our tough winters this way, including scallions, a relative of garlic.

We can also take a clue from annual plants in getting a head start on the spring.  Have you ever let your lettuce plants go to seed in the summer, only to find some volunteer lettuce sprouting up the next year in another spot?  Allowing seeds to remain in the garden over the winter can mean earlier germination in the spring.  Try planting some English peas, lettuce, spinach or mixed green seeds in late fall, while the soil is still able to be worked, and cover the seeds with leaf mulch.  In the spring, when there is much more to do in the garden, you will have one less task to think about.

This doesn’t apply only to vegetables – you can also sow some wild flower mix in your garden. This will give you a nice show in summer when your tomatoes and peppers are flowering, attracting pollinating insects to help your fruiting yield.

Planning ahead will simplify your gardening tasks in the spring, and give you another thing to look forward to in the garden.  Good luck!

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