Fall To First Freeze – Plant for Spring!

Most of Oklahoma has been blessed with some much needed rain in the last two weeks. Hopefully more rain will fall our way in the near future. Those rains have made our plant materials much happier as we march towards the first freeze of fall 2014. If the averages hold true we can expect our first freeze in the next week or two. We often end up with several weeks of beautiful “Indian Summer” after or between some of these early frosts and freezes that will give us even more time to enjoy our gardening. If we are going to get a light frost you can extend the season of many of your plants by covering them with a commercial garden row cover, burlap, old sheets or towels for a few extra degrees of protection.

There are still many activities we can do in the garden and landscape even as we prepare to mourn the passing of all our tender annuals and vegetables as we bid farewell to another growing season. Fall is a great time to plant container grown or balled and burlapped trees and shrubs. Planting in the fall gives the tree roots a head start to grow and get established in their new home before confronting the heat of the next summer. This is the best time to plant ornamental kale, cabbage and the ever more popular and colorful pansies. I love to see the bright, happy colorful pansy faces in a multitude of colors as I head out to work and get home each day through the winter months. These cool weather crops can really brighten your yard and container gardens through the short, dark days of late fall and winter.

This is the very best time to plant spring flowering bulbs. Visit your local garden center and buy crocus and grape hyacinths to get the flower show started early next spring. Then select tulips, hyacinths, Dutch Iris, alium and daffodils to anchor your spring bulb plantings. Each of these bulb crops is available in many varieties and many colors to give you the chance to act like an artist and paint the spring welcoming party of your choice on the canvas of your yard. Most of these bulbs should be planted two times deeper than the diameter of the bulb in well drained soil. My favorite are the daffodils or narcissus which will often naturalize and come back year after year in your garden with their bright yellow trumpet flowers.

This is a good time to fertilize your cool season lawn grasses like tall fescue or rye grass. If you haven’t done your last mowing and trimming for 2014 it is good to mow and trim your Bermuda or other warm season grasses while they are still green, before the first hard freeze, so your lawn will have a neat, clean look for the winter. This is a good time to control broad leaf weeds in warm or cool season lawns with an application of post emergent broad leaf weed killer a spray or in granular form. Do not apply herbicides over newly seeded tall fescue lawns.

Fall is for planting but it is also a great time to enjoy the encore of your spring and summer garden crops. The weather is near perfect on many of these autumn days and it is a wonderful time to enjoy the last warm season flowers of 2014. This is a great time to enjoy the garden, whether weeding and cleaning, composting, planting or just sitting and relaxing in the garden.

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