SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – Saturday marks the first day of fall and many backyard gardeners will be laboring under the misconception that the planting season is over until next spring.
“People are under the illusion that you can’t plant in the fall, but you can,” said Lisa Miller, manager of Gossett Brothers Nursery in South Salem. “In fact, it’s actually the best time to plant because the sun isn’t as hot and the nights are cooler.”
Amateur gardeners may be surprised to learn that fall lends itself to planting both plants and vegetables.
“It’s a great time to plant perennials,” Miller said. “Most nurseries have them on sale right now for 50 to 75 percent off, so it’s a great time to buy them.”
Kathy Courtney, a Gossett Brothers employee and gardener, said she has a few favorite perennials that are perfect for fall planting.
“Sedum, a succulent with beautiful raspberry-colored flowers, is good (for fall planting),” she said. “And there’s heucherea, which looks great (when planted) with some ornamental grasses.”
Courtney said fall is the perfect time to take those perennials that have been growing in containers on your deck or back porch and transfer them into the ground. They’ll rebound when spring arrives, she said.
For those picking their last few tomatoes and peppers from the vegetable garden, Courtney said not to worry; your horticultural endeavors don’t have to end and there’s still plenty of time to plant cold-weather veggies.
“Vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, kale, cabbage, string beans and beets are perfect for planting right now,” Courtney said. “They only take about 60 days and will be ready in time for Thanksgiving – as long as there’s no October snowstorm.”
Courtney – who plants her own fall vegetables at home – said last year’s October snow surprise absolutely devastated her garden. But she remains undaunted and has planted a new fall garden this year.
Courtney said to avoid using seeds when planting a fall vegetable garden – there won’t be enough time for them to come to fruition. Instead, buy plants that are already 5 or 6 inches tall. Most nurseries will have them right now.
Herbs also winter-over well, Courtney said. Consider perennial herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano and marjoram.
Miller and Courtney advised that when planting a fall garden, use a root stimulator to encourage more rapid root development. They also recommend adding another layer of mulch, especially if you’re planting herbs.
“It will help keep the root system warm and protect it from bad weather,” Miller said.