Ask the Chuckster: Planting and preparing for winter

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Ask the Chuckster: Planting and preparing for winter

by Chuck Marsh

I get a lot of questions in the fall about whether there is still time to plant. In my opinion, fall is the very best time of year to plant all but the most marginally hardy plants. The most challenging season for plants in our area is getting through the long, hot summer. By planting in the autumn, the plants have a long time to get established and acclimated before the stresses of summer. Fall planting allows plants to develop their roots during the dormant season, absorbing nutrients so that they are ready to take full advantage of the spring growing season.

Newly planted trees and shrubs benefit from a little extra care and protection in the fall. Be sure to water them in well when planting and give them a dose of diluted Nature’s NOG seaweed/humate concentrate to really get those roots growing.

Most plants benefit from thicker mulch in winter – up to 4” – out to the drip zone and beyond. This will keep the soil moist and somewhat warmer during the winter, allowing continued root development and preventing frost heaving. But keep all organic mulch material away from tree trunks to deter voles, mice, and borers! Either leave a bare space between mulch and trunk for several inches or use rock mulch against tree trunks.

Figs, pomegranates, and hardy citrus benefit from winter protection, especially their first winter and especially in colder climates from the mountains northwards. Wait until the plants are fully dormant before covering them. Thanksgiving is usually a good time in our area. See the section of winter protection videos for various methods of winter protecting your more sensitive plants.

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