Fall planting tips from the Henrico Master Gardeners

Now that the first frost has occurred and the garden has started dying back, it’s time to start planting!

“Planting now gives trees and shrubs and spring-flowering perennials a jump on the game,” said Henrico Extension Agent Lisa Sanderson.

“Your plants have the opportunity to get established before the heat and stress of late spring and summer.”

Sanderson says that even though the plants are dormant during the winter, roots continue to grow, producing a more robust plant in the spring that is better able to withstand heat and drought.

Fall can also be a good time to purchase new plants.

“Some things aren’t as readily available at other times of the year,” said Sanderson. “If you want balled-and-burlapped trees and shrubs, you’ll find the best selection now. They are dug in the fall when dormant and may not be as readily available for spring planting.”

You might find some good bargains, too. Many retailers don’t want to hold their plants over the winter so they’ll reduce prices. But Sanderson says fall gardeners need to “shop well.”

“You still need to evaluate the health of the plant,” she said. In addition to looking at the plant above the soil, Sanderson said it’s a good idea to look at the roots to make sure the plant is not root-bound, a condition that occurs when the plant has been in the container too long and the soil ball is a solid mass of roots.

“And don’t forget to consider where you want to put the plant,” said Sanderson. “How much sun do you get? How much space do you have, and how large is the plant going to get?”

“Avoid those impulse buys,” she said.

The procedures for planting in fall are basically the same as for spring.

Start with a soil test to determine what soil amendments will be needed in the spring. Soil test kits are available at all Henrico public libraries or the Extension Office in the Human Services Building of the Henrico Government Complex. Henrico citizens are eligible for two free soil samples each year.

Test the planting site for good drainage by digging the hole for your plant and filling it with water. If it doesn’t drain within 24 hours, you’ll need to install a raised bed or find another location.

After planting, monitor your garden to make sure your plants are getting enough water. “These plants need an inch of water a week throughout their first season,” said Sanderson. “Even during the winter, you should monitor moisture.”

Mulch, applied no more than 2-to-3 inches deep, can be beneficial by helping to slow water loss from the soil and preventing alternate freezing and thawing.

Planting now can give your spring garden a head start!
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The grant is given to select libraries in Virginia that apply and is intended to further the VBCF mission to educate the public about breast health and breast cancer. > Read more.

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Kaine, McEachin to host Service Academy Day


Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) will co-host their Service Academy Day to educate high school students about the service academy nominations process, an honor awarded by members of Congress for students interested in attending a service academy after high school.

The event will take place Saturday, Sept. 16, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Matoaca High School, 17700 Longhouse Lane, Chesterfield 23838. It will provide an opportunity for high school students and parents to learn about the nation’s military academies, a career in military service and the nominations process. > Read more.

Red Cross, Sport Clips offer free haircuts to blood donors


The American Red Cross and Sport Clips are partnering to provide free haircuts to anyone who donates blood or platelets to the Red Cross during September.

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The Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of Richmond will present the award-winning David Esleck Trio at 7:30 p.m. in Camp Concert Hall, Booker Hall of Music. Expect to hear selections from their previous Grammy-listed recordings, plus some new directions from the group recently named “Best Jazz Artist” in the city of Richmond. Admission is free. For details, call 289-8980 or visit http://www.modlin.richmond.edu. Full text

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