Garden Planning: Fall Bulbs

Bulb depth planting guide and a couple of our favorite perennial bulbs. 

Bulb depth planting guide and a couple of our favorite perennial bulbs. 

Plant bulbs in cool soil 4-6 weeks prior to a hard frost. A hard frost is a period of at least four consecutive hours of air temperatures that are below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bulbs should be planted immediately after you buy them in a sunny area with well drained nitrogen rich soil (this means avoid a spot that collects a lot of water). 

Plant bulbs at a depth of three times the width of the bulb.
In sandy soil plant bulbs slightly deeper; in clay soils, slightly shallower. 

Cover with compost rich soil and a little mulch or dried leaves.
Water the bulbs after you plant them and then about once a week until the ground totally freezes. 

We also suggest covering the planted area in chicken wire if you have any squirrel gangs near by. 

We also suggest covering the planted area in chicken wire if you have any squirrel gangs near by. 

Winter is Coming: Fall Gardening Projects

Your vegetable garden will continue to produce through a hard frost, which for us in the Midwest usually means November. Maintain your gardens until then by watering and covering fragile plants such as Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplants on cold nights (below 40°F).

Do Now   Winterizing your vegetable garden can begin as early as the first Pumpkin Spice Latte is served up. Start by cutting back plants and planting soil enriching ground cover seeds that will prevent erosion, protect soil microbes, outcompete cool-season weeds, and build up the soil fertility. These cover crops are sometimes called Green Manure and should only go in spent vegetable beds. They are legumes, grains or grasses. Some of our favorites are bachelor’s buttons, field pea, and crimson clover, which can be picked up locally at Mother Earth Garden Center. Continue to water up until a late hard frost, a hard frost is a period of at least four consecutive hours of air temperatures that are below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.


Do Soon   After the first frost cut down and compost spent vegetables and plants. Cut back to 6-9inches (still visible) faded or dead foliage on perennials after the first hard frost, and compost. Avoid composting diseased or pest-infested plants.

Do later   You can harvest some root vegetables like carrots until the soil is no longer workable. Hardy plants like collard greens and kale even like a little frost and will get sweeter as the weather gets cold.
Pile leaves or straw around your dormant perennials and throughout the veggie garden after the first hard frost. Make sure and wait this step out until a true hard frost or your plants may rot prematurely with too much moisture.  

Winter is Coming: How to Plant Garlic

One of your last fall gardening projects should be planting Garlic. This should be done a week or two after the first hard frost, aka late October. The garlic cloves will then take a long winter nap before emerging in the spring. 

Garlic seed cloves can be purchased online through Seed Savers and are also available locally at Egg Plant Urban Farm Supply and Mother Earth Gardens. Do not attempt to plant cloves from the grocery store. 

Instructions Select a sunny, well drained area with plenty of organic matter (compost) in the soil. Do not plant garlic where other onion crops have been grown the past two or three years. This area should be large enough to plant two rows of garlic 15 inches apart. 

Break apart the cloves from the bulb but keep the papery sheath on each individual clove. Plant the bigger and healthier individual cloves 4-6 inches apart and 2 inches deep with the pointed end of the clove facing up. Cover cloves with compost rich soil and/or a three to four-inch layer of weed seed-free straw mulch. Garlic shoots will emerge from the ground in late March or early April. 

Check out our Growing 101 on, Picking, Drying and Storing Garlic & Onions.