Baby Step 42: Fall Planting for Spring

The summer harvest has been processed and the frost deadened plants have been composted.

It’s time to plant for spring.

Chives, garlic and shallots are best planted after a hard frost in late fall. These three are also the first garden plants to pop through the cold spring soil. Lettuce, parsley and spinach can also be planted in late fall prepping for an early spring start.

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Transplanting Chives: Fall is the time to cut and divide your chives plants in your garden and yard. Before transplanting, water the plant until it’s saturated. Simply divide the chives plant with a sturdy trowel or small shovel and cut from top down through the roots. Cut deeply around section of plant that is to be removed. Remove plant section and  backfill soil around the remaining plant. Transplant the removed chives plant to another location; plant, water and mulch around the plant.

Garlic: Wintering garlic increases the number of cool days and nights growing larger garlic heads. In late fall plant individual plump garlic cloves pointed side up in loose composted soil about 2 inches deep. Plant individual cloves 7-8 inches apart in rows that are 9-10 inches in between. Cover rows with 2-3 inches of hay or straw to protect cloves until the first warm days of spring. Early garlic sprouts are mild and perfect in pestos, salads and sandwiches. Continue growing and watering throughout the summer until tops fall over and turn brown. Pull garlic bulbs from soil, wash and air dry. Braid stalks together and hang  or cut bulb from stalk and store in a cool dry place until needed. Save some cloves and repeat the wintering process for the following spring. Plant individual shallot cloves the same way as garlic. Winter but let them grow into the summer when the shallot clove will grow into a large cluster of cloves.

Lettuce, Parsley and Spinach: Purchase cold hearty types of lettuce, parsley and spinach seeds. Plant seeds in a sunny spot in loose fertile soil in late fall before the ground freezes. Cover seeds with soil. Cover with 2-3 inches of straw or hay to protect emerging seedlings in spring.

Fall planting will ensure fresh salads in spring and a head-start to summer planting.

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