The Green Thumb: Fall is planting time for local gardens
by Sue Davis / For the Tracy Press
Oct 04, 2012 | 2811 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Now that cooler weather is coming, this is a great time to spruce up the garden with some cool-weather annuals, such as dianthus, Iceland poppy, pansy, primrose, snapdragon, stock and violets.

Fall is the best time to plant trees, too. They will take less water than if they were planted in the spring, and the early start will allow them to grow a healthy root system before their spurt of growth in March or April.

For autumn colors of red, gold or yellow, choose Chinese pistache, gingko, tupelo, scarlet oak, red oak, red maple, crepe myrtle or redbud. Be sure to check the mature height and width of the tree to know if you are planting it where it will have room to grow.

If you haven’t tried planting winter vegetables, this could be your year for a successful winter garden. Vegetables to get in the ground from transplants might include bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, endive, kale and kohlrabi.

Carrots, leaf lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach and turnips are easy to start from seed this month. And garlic cloves in the ground now produce an early-summer harvest.

Plan ahead for colorful spring displays by scattering and planting bulbs for natural-looking, colorful displays. Nurseries should have a good selection from which to choose — anemone, calla, narcissus, freesia, hyacinth, Muscari or Dutch iris — to celebrate spring.

Tulips are nice, but most hybrids are annuals rather than perennials, which makes them rather expensive.

Wait for the temperature of the soil to fall to 55 degrees — average nighttime temps of 50 degrees or cooler for at least two weeks — to plant bulbs.

Wildflower seeds sown in fall will grow into spring plants that attract butterflies and beneficial insects. Good bets are California poppies, alyssum and larkspur.

Planting now, in the cooler weather, is enjoyable and produces both beauty and edibles during the dreary winter months.

• The Green Thumb is a column by Tracy’s master gardeners. University of California certified master gardeners are available to answer gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or
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