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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gardening: Still time to plant and transplant before the ground freezes

Size matters when it comes to planting garlic cloves. Large cloves will grow large heads for harvest next July. Use small ones for cooking.  (Pat Munts/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Pat Munts For The Spokesman-Review

Fall is settling in quickly as we roll into mid-October. As of this writing, there is no indication of frost and that means there is still time to transplant perennials, move shrubs and plant fall bulbs and garlic.

Now is the best time to transplant peonies. As the weather cools, they are going dormant and less likely to be damaged by moving. Insert a shovel about a foot out from the stem and gently work it around the rootball to loosen it. The root can be divided by cutting lobes that have several small pink growing buds near the stem. Replant the roots at the same level they were in their original spot. If the buds are buried too deep, the plant will not bloom.

It’s not too late to dig and divide perennials as the ground is still warm. Dig out the rootballs and divide them with a shovel or soil knife and replant them. Cover them with a few inches of mulch to prevent frost heaving over the winter.

Late October into early November is a good time to move evergreens and small conifers. Insert a shovel near the tree’s drip line and work your way around the tree loosening roots. Conifers generally have roots about a foot deep so it’s not difficult to work them loose. Replant the tree in a shallow, wide hole such that the root flare from the trunk is at the soil level. Back fill the hole with native soil and water to settle the soil around the roots. If the tree is in a windy spot, stake it on three sides through the winter.

Spring bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocuses and hyacinth can be planted up to the point the ground freezes and is too hard to dig. Follow the directions that came with your bulbs as some are planted deeper than others. Set stakes to mark where you planted them. It’s frustrating when you forget and dig into them in the spring.

If you want large garlic cloves, fall is the best time to plant them. Break up the heads just before you plant and use the largest cloves. The small ones go into the kitchen. Set the cloves 1 inch deep and 4 inches apart and cover with soil. Mulch the bed with 3 to 4 inches of pine needles, shredded leaves or fine wood chips to insulate the bed. The heads will be ready to harvest the following July.

Retirement congratulations

I want to say thank you to my friend and colleague Susan Mulvihill for sharing the pages of The Spokesman Review for all these years. She shared her adventures and misadventures with us in an easy, relatable style that spoke right to the reader. Behind the scenes, we shared column topics and who was going to write about what event. We wrote a book together and are still friends.

Thank you, Susan, you will be missed. Don’t worry folks, she is still doing videos and her newsletter.