Fall Planting - Hardy Annuals by Dana Vargo – Flowers From the Farm, NJ - Sustainable flower Farmer

Updated: Aug 3, 2019




What is a Hardy Annual?

Hardy annuals thrive in cooler weather. They can be planted in the early fall and build a healthy root system to overwinter or in the early spring before the last frost.

Half hardy annuals can tolerate cooler weather but do not like frost, they can be planted when the ground is cool but the threat of frost is past. Ex. Marigolds, Cosmos,

Tender annuals do not like cool weather or ground and do best in summer when the ground temps are warm. Zinnias, Dahlias, Amaranthus

We will concentrate on direct sow opposed to starting seeds indoors and planting out as seedlings.

Examples of direct sow cut flower Hardy Annuals – Full Sun

Bupleurum – not deer resistant – need cool spell – 2 weeks – self seed

Bells of Ireland – Deer resistant – (refrigerate for 2 weeks prior to planting)

Nigella (Love in a mist)- Deer resistant – self seed

Delphinium (larkspur) – will self seed some

Steps to planting in early April

Prepare your ground –

1 – Break up the soil – make sure you have 4-6 inches of loose earth that drains well.

2 - Add some or all of the following - composted manure – composted leaves – mushroom compost - garden soil

The above gives the soil nutrients and creates a healthy environment for the plant to thrive – if you have sandy soil it helps to create density and if you have more clay then it helps break it up and lessens the compaction.

3a - create holes about 6 inches apart and 1 inch deep and add granula fertilizer (Espoma Flower Tone) and worm compost (Bumper crop) plant 2 – 3 seeds per hole and fill back in with soil.

Or 3b - create a long trench and sprinkle with granula fertilizer (I use Espoma Flower Tone) and worm compost (Bumper crop) and scatter seeds in the trench and push the soil back over top as these seeds germinate in the dark.

4 – Water the seeds and keep them moist until they germinate.

5 – once they germinate and they develop more leaves they can be fertlized, make sure they ground stays moist enough for them to drink.

Patience is needed germination may take a couple of weeks depending on the weather

The idea is to prevent a hard freeze so that the root system does not get compromised. By mulching and covering with frost cloth ground stays warmer, but cold enough for the plants to remain dormant. The above ground plant can look relativley unhappy but if the root system is strong and uncompromised once the tempartures consistently stay above freezing the plant will thrive and the covering can be removed.

Mulch – straw (no seeds) – composted leaves or even an agribon fabric can be used when temparture starts dipping below freezing.

Other points of interest:

Seed packets are loaded with information along with seed selling sites

Compost feeds the soil – fertilizer feeds the plant

Phospherous pomotes the production of flowers, using a fertilizer specific for flowering plants will give the plant what it needs to succeed.

It all begins with the soil – a few notes to keep yours healthy

Organic Gardening – utilzing practices that do not harm the earth or the environment but instead nurish it. We do not use chemical pesticides or growth hormones.

It all start with the Soil – healthy soil grows strong healthy plants that can fight off pest and disease. Promoting strong stems and roots that absorb nutrients mean long stems and healthy blooms.

Healthy soil is measured in PH and N –P –K.

PH (Pondus Hydrogen) is the acidity of the soil. Some plants can tolerate a pretty wide range of PH such as Cosmos, others are more picky, the best is to keep it between 6 and 7 which is slightly acidic to nuetral. An accurate soil test will indicate your soil’s pH level and will specify the amount of lime or sulfur that is needed to bring it up or down to the appropriate level (slightly acidic to neutral) range. Acidic (sour) soil is counteracted by applying finely ground limestone, and alkaline (sweet) soil is treated with gypsum (calcium sulfate) or ground sulfur. Off PH levels effect the plants ability to absorb nutrients and the soils ability to breakdown organic matter. N-P-K refers to the ratio of important elements in a fertilizer or soil amendment.

N stands for nitrogen, which is responsible for strong stem and foliage growth. (light green leaves can indicate low nitrogen)

P is for phosphorus, which aids in healthy root growth and flower and seed production. (purpling of the leaves)

K stands for potassium, which is responsible for improving overall health and disease resistance and aids in the uptake of nutrients. (it’s hard to spot this as the plant overall does not do well, but the symptoms are not as obvious)

When you break it down this way it makes a lot of sense, but this is why soil testing is important. You can get a basic soil test kit to see what your soil may need or Rutgers has a basic test for $20.

Basic Soil amendments –

Compost – manure – leaves – garden soil – worm compost

Fertilizers – fish – espoma brand - bone meal for phosphorous

The healthier your soil the less fertilizer you add.

Sources:

Book - Cool Flowers by Liza Mason Ziegler and the internet

Fertilizer - Espoma Brand granular – Flower Tone - Brocks

Alaska or Neptune’s Harvest – Fish fertilizer – liquid, high nitrogen content – use as needed

Worm Compost – Bumper Crop – get from Brocks

Garden Soil – Organic – Home Depot – Kelloggs or Lowes Harvest brand

Only organic products have been listed.

Seed sources – Johnny’s seeds, Harris seeds, Baker Creek rare seed, Siskiyou Seeds

Thank you –

Dana Vargo

www.flowersfromthefarmnj.com 732-740-9927

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