McCREARY: Deadlines for cool-season planting

For a good many gardeners, October spells the end of a busy season of weeding and watering, harvesting and preserving. For others, it's just the opposite — not the end, but the beginning of a new season for nurturing cool-season edibles and winter blooming ornamentals.

However you garden as our winter rains set in, you likely have a to-do list before storms unleash their fury and the ground turns too soggy to work.

One of the most important to-do tasks for anyone seeking a specialty fruit tree is placing an early order at your local nursery. One of the best resources is Urban Tree Farm in northwest Santa Rosa. Their deadline is Nov. 12.

Although bare-root fruit trees are readily available in January and February from nearly all nurseries and garden centers, finding a certain special one is often impossible unless it's ordered early.

Urban Tree Farm places orders with Dave Wilson Nursery, a huge wholesale supplier that has introduced many outstanding fruit tree varieties. Pre-payment is required for trees that you pick up in January.

As always, prior to purchase, be sure to note whether or not a pollinizer is needed, a condition that often limits the selection for backyard gardens. On the urbantreefarm.com website, details are given in the fruit tree catalog. Fuji apple, for example, is self-fruitful whereas Green and Red Gravensteins are not.

If you've had experience with fruit trees, you may already know that apples, peaches, pears and plums are well suited to all of our microclimates except those directly on the coast, where conditions are less than ideal. But apricots, many pluots, and cherries tend to be more temperamental, disease-prone, and short-lived than they are in the Central Valley where they're grown commercially.

<IP0>Planting window

<MC><CW-26>Tradition says that garlic is planted on the shortest day of the year, Dec. 21, and harvested on the longest day of the year, June 21. That deadline is still 2 months away, but you may want to jump-start the process</CW>.

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