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Here’s where you can learn what and when to plant this fall
Get a jump on fall squash and spring flowers by being ready early
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Fall is coming, and now is the time to prepare your garden for a rich autumn harvest. - photo by Nick Bowman

If you’re hoping to have a beautiful garden come spring, now is the time to get started making it happen.

Lynn Poole, a Hall County Master Gardener, is offering a “Fall into Planting” class that will tell you exactly what to do to make that happen as fall approaches.

Fall into Planting

What: Class on how to plan for your garden as fall approaches

When: 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24

Where: Lanier Nursery and Gardens, 4195 Schubert Road, Flowery Branch

How much: Free

More info: www.laniernurserygardens.com/events

“I've been gardening for a long time,” Poole said. “I've made a lot of mistakes along the way and I just wanted to do the class to help people who are new to gardening, and maybe save them some of the headaches that I created for myself by doing things wrong.”

The class, scheduled 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at Lanier Nursery and Gardens, is free, but reservations are encouraged.

Nathan Wilson, manager and lead horticulturist at the nursery, said one of the reasons for planting in the fall is because of the temperature. As it begins to get cooler outside, plants are put under less stress. The soil, though, is still warm, which allows the plant to get roots deep into the soil before going dormant over the winter.

“We're able to increase the size of the newly-planted plant's root system in a matter of months,” Wilson said. “So when spring comes, your root system may be two to three times as big.”

But before you get to planting anything, both Wilson and Poole said it’s most important to have a plan.

“It doesn't mean you have to have something written on paper, but you've got to know what you want to achieve,” Wilson said. “You've got to know what kinds of plants you're going to use and how to put them together, how you want them to work together to make a nice aesthetically pleasing garden.”

Wilson said it’s a good time to plant almost any kind of shrub or tree and most perennials.

“If somebody is looking to plant a screen or plant a shade tree, they’re going to want to do that in the fall for sure,” Wilson said.

As far as annuals go, he said to look for the cool-season plants like pansies, biolas, dusty miller, ornamental cabbages and snapdragons.

But no matter what you’re planting, Poole said putting together a plan is her key to having a successful garden.

“Whether you're talking landscape, ornamentals or vegetables, it's going to be healthier and easier to take care of if you spend some time planning,” Poole said.

The first order of business: get the soil ready.

“As long as the soil is workable, you can go ahead and cultivate the soil and mix in organic matter, fertilizer or lime as needed,” Poole said. “You could go ahead and do that now, but it's hot and dry out there now which makes the soil hard to work.”

Wilson said when it comes time to plant, which he suspects could be as soon as mid-September, be sure to dig a hole that’s two to three times bigger than the plants root ball. Once planted and you’re ready to put mulch down, be sure to make it about two inches thick and keep it two inches away from the base of the plant to avoid rot.

If you’re looking to work on your vegetable garden — things like fall squash and leafy vegetables — it’s time to get started seeding those. And if you’re using a raised bed, it’s time to get rid of those old plants occupying them and prepare for new vegetables to move in.

“Especially with tomatoes, with these high temperatures we've had ... these kinds of things like tomatoes and peppers, they stop producing anyways,” Wilson said. “So, with the high temperatures, it's a good signal to start transitioning.”

Wilson suggested starting some seeds in containers, letting them get to about four inches tall and then transplanting them to your garden in a few weeks.

It’s all about planning right now and planting all depends on the season. Wilson said that’s often the hardest part for gardeners — knowing exactly when to plant. Fall is the best time, he said, but in order to be successful, you have to know when fall actually hits.

“The calendar tells us when fall is, but that doesn't mean it's the best time to plant,” Wilson said. “I recommend people don't look at the calendar, but look at the trees. When the oak trees and the maple trees, when they've all dropped their leaves, that means it's a good time to start planting at that point.”

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