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Vermont Garden Journal: Fall Tree Planting

AP/Jeff Gentner

Friday, October 18, 2013 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 9:35 a.m. I'm Charlie Nardozziand this is the Vermont Garden Journal. You see the signs up at many garden centers this time of year. "Fall sale on all trees and shrubs, 50% off, 70% off, we'll pay you to take them away!” Each fall garden centers want to move out their old plant stock so they don't have to over-winter the trees and shrubs in their yard. It's a great opportunity to snatch up some deals on some good looking plants.

Fall is a good time of year to plant deciduous trees and shrubs and evergreens, with some precaution. Roots will continue to grow until the soil's temperature dips below 40F. Deciduous plants have no leaves, so there's no need for the roots to send water to the shoots.

The caveat is with evergreens. They continue to transpire moisture through their leaves and needles into winter. If the roots haven't had a chance to get established in fall, the leaves may not have enough moisture to stay alive. You'll end up with those sad brown evergreens we sometimes see in spring. You can plant evergreens this time of year, but it's best to protect them. Wrap burlap around the tree or shrub to block the drying, winter winds. It's often the winds that cause more damage than the cold temperatures. Spray an anti-desiccant spray on the needles and leaves in late fall as long as the temperatures are above 40F. Reapply it during a warm spell in January or February to be really effective. So, get buying, but be smart about planting.

And now for this week's tip, excess fallen leaves make great piles for kids to jump in and stuffing for scarecrows, but they also make a great soil amendment. Create a 3 foot wide and tall leaf mold pile in a corner of your property and just let it sit. It will take a year or so to decompose into useable compost. You can speed up the process my shredding the leaves first and turning the pile periodically.

Next week on The Vermont Garden Journal I'll be talking about cool pumpkins for Halloween. Until then,
I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Planting Trees and Shrubs
Transplanting Trees and Shrubs in Vermont

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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