Homegrown: Your planting window for fall

It will be at least two weeks before we can get some cool crops planted including cabbage, beans, lettuce, carrots and peas. Have we missed our planting window, and if so, when could we plant them later to get a fall crop? Are there any of the above mentioned you wouldn’t plant for a fall crop?

— Scott

This year has been a bit screwy with the cold weather and all. I used to plant my lettuce and spinach the first of February, but this year that was impossible since there was still a half foot of snow still on the ground and it was all frozen solid.

Because of that, I’ve told folks to just get it planted as soon as you can.

However, since you’re talking about the first part of May, I’d probably skip a few things this spring. I wouldn’t plant lettuce, spinach, peas, broccoli or cauliflower. They really don’t do well at all in hotter weather.

You could plan on doing a fall crop of these by planting the middle to the end of August. The peas would be a bit iffy — they have a longer season to mature and an early frost could ruin them — but the others should be OK.

As for the rest of the veggies (cabbage, carrots, potatoes, turnips, onions, radishes, turnips, etc.), they’re not nearly as sensitive to warm temperatures and you ought to be able to plant them in a couple weeks with no problem.

I have a 12x12-foot space next to my vegetable garden that might be suitable for a tree that would offer shade. A smaller flower garden with fence borders the other side of this space.

I would like advice on a type of tree that might be compatible with a vegetable garden. Is there a smaller type of tree you could recommend?

Would the required spraying, etc., for fruit trees interfere with the more organic nature of the garden?

— Barb

If the tree really, really, really can’t get wider than 12 feet at maturity, your choices are limited.

There aren’t a lot of plants that are treelike and fit that size range. Snow Fountains Cherry is a very nice tree that would fit into that area, but it’s really an ornamental specimen, not something we look to get any shade.

You might consider a variety of Saucer Magnolia such as “Leonard Messel,” “Randy” or “Merrill.” They will probably get a bit bigger than what you’re looking for, but they grow awfully slowly so it would be decades before that would become an issue.

I also think magnolia are happiest with some shade in the afternoon around here.

Another good choice is a tree form Rose of Sharon. Not too sure they would reach 12 feet (probably 8–10 feet) but they make a lovely little specimen and have gorgeous flowers from mid summer into fall.

Another possibility is a tree form hydrangea. Again, they’ll be smaller like the Rose of Sharon, but are beautiful in bloom through the summer.

Now, if we can get a bit bigger than 12 feet then our choices start to increase.

The thing to remember about the size of plants is that they’re not like us. They will grow some every year until they die.

They don’t grow up to one size and then stop. So, when we talk about the size of a tree we also have to consider the time frame we’re talking about.

There are a lovely group of smaller ornamental trees that would get wider than what you want (say 18–22 feet). Just keep in mind that it will take 15–20 years for them to get to that.

If this works for you, then you could consider trees such as flowering crabapple (don’t dismiss them—we have newer varieties that are much cleaner than the old ones), hawthorn, flowering pear, purple leaf plum, European bird cherry, horsechestnut, tatarian maple, dwarf umbrella catalpa, mountain ash, and redbud.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, online at http://www.book cliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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