We are approaching the fall planting season. As fall approaches, I like to remind people that fall is the best planting season of the year. September, October and November are better months for planting than March, April and May. I’ll give you the top four reasons why fall is a better time to plant than spring.
The growing conditions between the two seasons are reversed.
In the spring, you start with cold air and cold ground. Before a new plant can begin to grow above ground, it must first establish new roots. Warm soil is needed to stimulate new root growth.
In spring, air temperature and soil temperature increase simultaneously. As the summer months arrive, many of the new plants are not established enough to sustain themselves. This creates the need for homeowners to be more diligent in caring for new plants.
When you plant in the fall, soil temperatures are warm, so roots establish quickly. In autumn the temperatures drop and we also tend to have more rain. Lower temperatures and higher natural humidity reduce the need for plant maintenance.
Fall established plants have two full seasons to establish
The most maintenance-intensive season for newly established plants is summer. When plants are set up in the fall, you get two seasons for them to establish and grow before experiencing a midwestern summer.
Even when you wait until November to plant, you still have warm soil. The roots will start growing right away and will continue to grow for weeks until we start getting freezing temperatures. They will eventually stop growing, resting while all the plants go dormant. Then, when the temperatures start to rise in the spring, the roots are where they need to be to keep growing in the spring.
There is more value in the plants you buy
Most plants purchased in the fall will be larger than the same plant, in the same size pot, that you might purchase in the spring. This is because the growth cycle of most vegetable crops is targeted for release in spring and early summer. Most plants these days are grown and sold in pots, and the size of the pot determines the price of the plant. However, the size of the plant is just as important, if not more important, than the size of the pot. The plant must reach a minimum size before the nursery releases it. Most of the time, when the plants are released in the spring, they are just reaching the minimum height level. Throughout the season they continue to grow. Thus, the plants sold in the fall will be much larger than those available the following spring, when the growth cycle begins again.
Autumn is the beginning of the end of the season for garden centres. Managers and owners know that spring buyers want fresh stock. The garden store inventory has already been purchased and paid for, and these businesses want to significantly reduce their inventory by the end of the year. To do this, most will offer discounts throughout the fall season. The closer we get to the end of the season, the more generous the discounts will be. Keep in mind that the selection will be significantly reduced at the same time.