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Gardening with Wanda: Fall is the time to act
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The best time to seed or sod is now.

If you like a beautiful lawn, try planting the popular cool season tall fescue grass.

It is popular with the do-it-yourself homeowner because it can be seeded, and its genetically dark-green color can be striking in the fall and spring.

This cultivar turf grass has a good, deep root system that is extensive, and in most cases, somewhat drought tolerant.

Consider these practices when establishing tall fescue — proper planting times, soil preparation (tilling and adding organic amendments), fertilization, irrigation, mowing heights and ideal seeding rates per square foot.

You can call the Extension office for more details and we always have helpful resources to assist you.

Plant lots of beautiful flowering pansies. If planted correctly, their many colorful faces and cold weather tolerance will keep you happy through the winter months.

Plant like the pros. Do not plant more than you can maintain and make sure you get them in before the end of October. I would suggest planting the larger containers because they have larger root systems and will establish more quickly and produce more flowers earlier.

Pansies come in lots of colors and varieties, some solid to shades of softer pastels. Combine colors that work well off each other. A suggestion would be yellow or orange blooms combined with purple or maroons. White and blue pansies are also a striking combo.

Pansies require full sun and good drainage. Plant them on raised beds full of good organic matter that has been worked into the soil about a foot deep.

Broadcast some 10-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of two cups per 100 square feet over the bed and work into the soil.

Lay out your pansy pots and plan your beds, planting from the inside out. Spacing should be about six to eight inches apart. After planting, always mulch with two to three inches of pine straw, pine bark nuggets or shredded hardwood.

A couple of other ideas might be to plant some cooler leafy green vegetables like collards, turnips and cabbage. At this point, you would need to plant transplants, not seeds.

Use them in large containers and keep them close to the kitchen for an easy edible kitchen garden or plant them in containers as ornamentals and mix pansies, violas or snapdragons in to color up a stark patio or deck in the winter.

Fruiting trees are a favorite for a lot of people.

They are a delicious way to add beauty and flavor to your landscape. It is a must to start on the right path when planting fruit trees and they do require some annual maintaining year round.

Start with young trees, about one year old. Plant them in a sunny location in loamy, well drained soil two times the size of the root ball. It is important to backfill the hole with the soil you dug up.

Always plant the graft union just above ground level and tap backfill soil firmly around the root ball to smooth out air pockets.

The Extension office has maintenance schedules for all types of fruiting trees, so make sure you know when is the right time to prune, fertilize and spray for insect and disease problems. This is essential in establishing a healthy fruit tree.

If you don't like raking and bagging leaves, recycle them by mowing them up and use them around the bases of your trees, shrubs and garden beds. Incorporate some of them into your fall vegetable garden for rich humus by next spring.

Fall is a great time to get out and enjoy gardening.

It is the best time to plant all of your favorite plants. They require less water and are less likely to suffer from drought related stress next summer.

And we all know what this summer was like, so get out and have fun.

Thanks to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension publication AP105.

Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office; phone, 770-535-8293. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.

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