Fun Fall Container Gardening
Fall is an amazing time to plant and autumn container gardening can be beneficial. Although we see the green landscaping slowing down in the fall of the year, the colors of your garden can be enhanced by planting and promoting growth before the winter season hits us.
Summer is slowing and the hot days are giving away to cooler and cooler nights. These cool evenings are particularly good for herbs and vegetables and help extend the life of the plantings we have made through summer. The soil is still warm, which makes it great for starting seeds and seedlings. For areas of the world that have a mild winter, fall can represent six to eight weeks of a second growing season.
Shrubs, trees, and perennials started in the fall need less watering because most regions have cooler weather and more consistent rain. Vegetable plantings need less hose or rain barrel watering. Leaves dramatically change color, gently drift down from the trees; taking their final stage bow for the season. Once the weather turns to frost, cover your plants while maintaining a consistent watering schedule and you might be surprised how long your garden can stretch into winter.
Planting container gardens during autumn is a great way to continue to the season with some garden freshness. My favorite thing to plant in the fall is an herb. Full of excitement, color, and instant gardener gratification, herbs are also delicious to eat and can be dried over winter.
Herbs allow a unique versatility in the garden; you can choose pollinator attracting herbs to mix in your containers and beds; planting something to extend the season for the bees and butterflies. My garden has a significant display of herbs that I consider dual-duty plants. Herbs such as oregano and globe basil help encourage bees, who love their scented flowers. Besides functioning simply as a beautifying tool in the garden, ornamental herbs such as curry, purple basil, scented lavender, and silver sage can help flavor all your fall soups and dishes. Salads are still in season through the fall and herbs make an astounding taste and ornamental contribution to a salad. Culinary uses for herbs are extensive and this certainly makes a strong argument for having them in your fall container garden.
Seed starting an annual herb is quite easy and a great way to save money. Starting seeds can be done inside four to six weeks before planting or outside sown directly in soil. If starting your seeds inside, it helps to have a sunny window or growing lights above the seedlings. Use an organic commercial seed starting soil mix that focuses on organic plant growth. This is particularly important if your ornamental edible beds are chemical free. There are dozens of seed starting kits on the market now which work fine. Moisten the soil mix, fill the potting cells, and place a single seed in each cell of a seed tray according to seed packet directions. Keep moist until germination, then water regularly. Use organic liquid fertilizer to improve growth.
If you want instant color without having to grow the seeds yourself, simply go to your local garden center and purchase bedding plants. They come ready to plant in containers of flats and are often already in flower. Set out young plants following the recommended sunlight and spacing. This will prevent them from crowding one another once they have matured. Prepare the planting hole with any soil amendments or organic fertilizers you want to add, my preferred “secret soil” combination for container garden planting is one part potting soil, one part rotted manure, and one part composted leaf mold. Plants can be pot bound when you bring them home, so remove them from their cells or containers and gently tease apart the roots. Place them in the soil and cover their roots. Water thoroughly.
Herbs are delightfully versatile plants and with the large selection of ornamental herbs available, the sky is the limit when it comes to planting combinations for the fall. Combine with bold fall plants such as kale and cabbage. Bring color and excitement to your garden this fall with herbs.
Shawna Coronado is a successful author, blogger, photographer, and media host who focuses on wellness by teaching green lifestyle living, organic gardening, and anti-inflammatory culinary. Most recently Shawna has written the books, “Grow a Living Wall” and “101 Organic Gardening Hacks”. Shawna campaigns for social and community good – her garden, food, and eco-adventures have been featured in many media venues including television news programming, radio broadcasting, and PBS television. You can learn more about Shawna at www.shawnacoronado.com.
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