Start preparing next year’s garden. Here are some tips on planting bulbs and other perennials and annuals. Easy!
Fall is the second key period of the year to sow and plant, after spring. This season is particularly well suited to horticulture, because plants won’t risk drying out due to excessive heat, and the garden is regularly watered by the best water that can be: rainfall. Indeed, it usually rains a lot in fall! For beginner gardeners, start with bulbs and perennials which are guaranteed to succeed!
- September to December, the gardener’s calendar
- Annual sowing and harvest calendar for the vegetable patch
Bulbs, such magical flowers!
To ensure your tulips, narcissus, daffodils, iris, grape hyacinths, crocus, colchicum, allium, cyclamen and hyacinths bloom magnificently over the next season, plant your bulbs preferably from September to November, or even December.
The goal is to bury these bulbs in soil for them to hibernate over winter, and they’ll sprout much more nicely in April and May. It’s best to select a spot in full or part sun, except for grape hyacinths, lily of the valley and narcissus that prefer shade by far. The soil must drain very well to keep the bulbs from rotting. Add sand if you realize the soil is too heavy.
With a bulb planter, prepare a hole in the ground that is wide enough for the bulb, and simply drop it in the hole with the pointed tip facing upwards. The ideal depth for the bulb is about 2 to 3 times the size of the bulb itself. Cover with soil entirely, press down and water. And if ever it didn’t quite succeed the first year, add bulb-specific fertilizer the second year.
Space them apart by about a hand’s distance. Nothing else need be done until spring, except perhaps to mark the spot with a label to remember where each variety is… But then again, let spring surprise you once temperatures have triggered their growth!
Once the flowers and especially leaves have died off, pull them all out. Discard the weaker ones, and store the remaining good bulbs in a dry spot until the next fall.
Perennials, long-lasting beauties
Sold in nursery pots in horticulture stores or garden shops, perennials are planted in fall for regions where the winters are mild, and in spring wherever winters are really cold. “Select plants that have developed a full, healthy bunch of roots”, recommends Brigitte Lapouge-Déjean in her book Je réusssis toutes mes cultures en pots [Successful container gardening], Terre Vivant publishing house. “Every plant will thrive with just a handful of compost and loose soil, and will triple in size or more during the year after they’re planted”, adds Patricia Beucher in her book Jardiner sans se planter [Gardening without going wrong], Ulmer publishing house; “most plants re-seed themselves spontaneously if the garden matches their taste”. These flowers will grow back every year!
Countless flowers and grasses, many herbs and spices and a few vegetables (artichoke, asparagus, currant…) are perennial plants. Take a look at roses, shrubs and fruit trees which also love being planted after summer.
Sowing in fall in the vegetable patch
Also, fall is the best season for planting lawn grass, as well as vegetables that will grow in the following summer: sow your winter lettuce varieties directly in the ground or in garden boxes, cabbage, garlic and green peas!