Having grown up in the North, springtime is planting time for me. However, since I've been living in Florida for over 20 years, I've learned that planting season tends to be more common in the fall and late winter. You might be wondering why I've posted this tidbit however I'll share a couple of my reasons:
Is your character a farmer?
Is your character having bad fortune? And if so, could planting at the wrong time give him or her problems?
Is a secondary character an older individual who loves to share their knowledge with younger folks?
The opportunities to use some of these tidbits are endless and adds just a touch of color to your historical novel that you might have missed. Anyway, Enjoy!
Here's a little tidbit from Collier's Cyclopedia of Commercial and Social Information ©1882:
In northern locations spring planting is preferable Southward, fall is preferred No certain line of division can be fixed ; but we should say that, as a rule, all south of the latitude of Phila delphia, Columbus in Ohio, and Quincy in Illinois, may most safely plant in the fall, while north of those points it is better to plant in the spring.
Note: This is in reference to fruit tree planting.
If spring planting is preferred, begin as soon as the frost is out deep enough and the ground in good working condition. One year with another, the entire month of May can be devoted to planting forest trees in Minnesota or Dakota. The advantages of fall planting are chiefly in the fact that the ground becomes firmly packed among the roots of the young tree to the exclusion of the air, and that it is in better position to appropriate the moisture resulting from the winter snows and early spring rains, getting thereby such a "send-off " as to enable the young tree to successfully go through a dry spell that would be very damaging, if not fatal, to spring planting. Such dry spells do occasionally prevail all over tbe Northwest about planting time, and hang on unmercifully. On the other hand, an open winter with frequent or occasional thawing and freezing, occasionally proves fatal to fall planting, the action of frost heaving the fall-planted seedling or cutting nearly or quite out of the ground. Where well rooted young trees are used we overcome this trouble to a great extent by deep planting. While spring planting escapes this danger, it is in bad shape to withstand a protracted drowth, and right there is where fall planting has the inside track. But should your spring planting be followed up by occasional timely showers, the newly planted trees grow right along with great vigor. The tree planter must take his chances. I have for many years planted largely both spring and fall, and my experience does not yet justify me in bringing in a verdict either way. In fact I consider it one of the least important of the many conundrums of forestry.
Source: The Minnesota Horticulturist: Annual Report ©1883
NOW is the time at the north to prepare for planting trees next spring, for all planting north of the latitude of this city is most safely done at that time of the year. Furthensouth the long autumn enables trees planted when the leaves are ripe to push out new roots and establish themselves before the ground freezes. Where cold weather follows close after the early frosts a tree planted in the autumn has no opportunity to develop new roots and, therefore, loses not only the benefit it would have obtained in a more temperate climate in an early and vigorous spring growth, but is forced to go through the winter without the aid of roots in actual working condition. Trees planted in cold countries at this season of the year do not necessarily die, but they are more apt to suffer than those planted in the spring; they are often blown over unless carefully staked. and they are frequently upheaved by the frost or thrown out of the ground entirely. For all operations, however, connected with the planting and care of trees, except the mere setting in the ground, the autumn is the best time. At this season planting plans should be made and stock selected, and the ground should be made ready to receive the trees as soon as the frost leaves it in the spring. Spring in this latitude is so short and the rush of spring work is so pressing that it is impossible to properly prepare ground for planting unless _tt is done during the previous summer or autumn. This 18 the time, therefore, when northern planters should decide what trees they want to use next spring and where they will plant them ; it is the time to select and order nursery stock, and here it may be said that better results are always obtained by personal inspection and selection by the purchaser than by leaving it to the seller to fill his orders. If the planter has facilities for protecting plants through the winter in a cold cellar or pit, it is better to obtain them now than in the spring, when nurserymen are crowded with orders‘and too busy to devote proper time and attention to digging and packing their trees. The ground being prepared, the exact position of each plant determined on and the plants on hand, the mere operation of setting them in the ground takes but a short'time.
Source: Garden and Forest ©1897