Fall Gardening Starts Now

August 16th, 2008 by Donna Wheatley Leave a reply »

It’s hard to believe in our sweltering August heat, but fall is just around the corner. Time to think ahead. Have you ordered bulbs? If not, don’t delay. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, snowdrops, etc. all need planting in fall.

When I think Fall, I think mums and pumpkins. Mums are the very essence of the season. Problem is, they’re difficult to grow in the Deep South. There are a few good perennial ones that grow here: Sheffield, Ryan’s Pink, Clara Curtis, and Ryan’s Yellow, to name a few. They all have daisy formed flowers and they all tend to be pretty aggressive plants. I grow them anyway. But I want a deep gold or bronzey red colored bloom for fall. If I buy mums at the store, they’re expensive, they bloom only once, and if it’s hot outside, they don’t last more than a week. Answer? Marigolds! If you plant some marigold seed in pots now, they’ll be fresh and blooming by October and will keep blooming until frost, which, in my area, can be as late as Thanksgiving.

If your daytime temps are over eighty now, you’ll need to get the seeds germinated indoors. I sow seeds into potting soil, water well and drain for a good half hour. Then I slip the pots into Ziploc Bags and put them in bright light. They’ll germinate in a week or less, and once they have a set of true leaves, you can move them outside. Put them in bright shade for a few days, and then harden them off by moving them into the sun for a couple of hours the first day, an hour or so longer the second day, etc.  If you have a day or two of rain or very cloudy days, that’s the perfect time to move them into full sun. By the time the clouds are gone, the plants can take the full heat and glare.

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