Now that normal cold weather is here, it’s easy to forget about the mild fall and early winter we had. That mild autumn and early-winter will probably turn out to be a real bonus for gardeners, especially for those who did any kind of fall planting.
The roots of most fall planted plants continue to grow as long as the soil is not deeply frozen. A long, moderate fall and early winter like the one we had this past season was ideal for fall root growth. That means the plants are now well established and will be raring to go this spring.
Garlic is one crop that is normally planted in the fall. I’m going to predict that this year your garlic crop will be better than normal. We should see larger than normal bulbs with larger and more cloves per bulb at harvest time. That’s assuming all other factors such as weed control, fertilizer and soil moisture are the same as usual.
Our tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus should produce great flowers this spring too.
The same hold true for trees and shrubs. Any woody plants planted this past fall should be in great shape to make excellent growth in the spring. Anyone who planted fruit trees this fall will have effectively gained nearly an entire growing season — as far as root growth goes.
If we have one of those springs where we quickly jump from winter right into hot weather (which sometimes happen around here) those fall planted tress will be able to shrug off the stress. On the other hand, spring planted trees under hot, dry conditions will not fare as well.
Keep in mind that spring is still the best time of the year to plant tree and shrubs. This year however, El Nino helped us out by allowing a moderate fall and early winter.
The US Department of Agriculture has developed digital tools that farmers can use to track developments like those of El Nino and others, allowing farmers to make better planting, harvesting, storage and marketing decisions. As gardeners we can piggy back on that research and apply it in our own little corner of the world.
I plan to make a note in my garden journal to keep an eye for the next developing El Nino and plan accordingly.