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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New law paves way for delivery robots

Having your groceries delivered by a robot sounds like something out of The Jetsons, but that prospect is not as futuristic as you may think.

For the second year in a row, the Virginia General Assembly has passed a law to legalize the operation of autonomous vehicles. Beginning July 1, “electric personal delivery devices” will be allowed to operate on sidewalks and other shared-use paths throughout Virginia.

> Read more.

Virginia schools must soon test for lead in water

With the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, safe drinking water is a high priority nationwide, especially for children. Beginning July 1, schools in Virginia will be required to test their potable water for lead.

Senate Bill 1359, which Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law on March 20, seeks to ensure that local school boards test the drinking water in schools and that it meets federal guidelines. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that the level of lead not exceed 15 parts per billion. > Read more.

Business in brief


The Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA) has announced its officers and Board of Directors for the 2017–18 fiscal year. At-large Board members include: Anne B. Hagen, CPA, of Masonic Home of Virginia in Henrico. The officers and directors were sworn in at the VSCPA’s annual business meeting on May 16 in Williamsburg. > Read more.

Free weekly 5k coming to Henrico

The Richmond metro area is no stranger to 5k races and events. To participate in most 5k events, runners must register and pay a fee. But the Parkrun organization will be providing Henrico County with a free 5k every Saturday at Deep Run Park starting June 3.

Parkrun began in England in 2004 and eventually found its way to the U.S.

The Deep Run Parkrun program will be the 10th one in the U.S., said Darrell Stanaford, the country manager for Parkrun USA. > Read more.

State Police urge motorists to #MoveOver during Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day signifies the official start of summer, and Virginia State Police officials are urging motorists to "do what’s right when they see lights" and move over.

The “Move Over” law is a lifesaving law intended to protect public safety professionals and highway workers who help to maintain the safety of the Commonwealth’s roads. State Police are using the #MoveOver hashtag on social media to promote the law. > Read more.

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May 2017
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The Rockville Community Center, located at 16238 Pouncey Tract Rd., will hold its second annual Spring Fling Fundraising Event from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Highlights include fire safety demonstrations, a silent auction, vintage tractors and classic cars on display, goats and alpacas, games, face painting, a bouncy house, food and more. The gym, pool and tennis courts will be open for all to enjoy. Admission is $5 per person; food extra. All are welcome. Full text

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