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CARMEN KETRON: Don’t miss the fall Plant & Flower Festival
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CARMEN KETRON: Don’t miss the fall Plant & Flower Festival

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Carmen Ketron

Well, buy me a pumpkin-flavored hot coffee and a front porch full of orange and purple mums because fall is here! One way you can tell is the Pee Dee State Farmers Market Plant & Flower Festival is next weekend.

Even if you aren’t crazy about all that fall has to offer, you can still take this time to prepare for a bright and exciting spring with some strategic perennial planting. That journey can start for you at the Fall Plant & Flower Festival.

The festival will be in bloom Oct. 1, 2, and 3 at the Pee Dee State Farmers Market. Open Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the market gives you ample opportunity to pick that perfect plant for your front porch fall décor.

You of course want to check out the staple annual pansies and mums in all different colors. But don’t stop there. Some fun varieties to spice up a fall planter include bright crotons, celosia, asters, marigolds, and ornamental fountain grasses. Don’t shy away from decorative sedums, ornamental cabbage, and bright coleus that can add texture and whimsy to your gardens and containers in to the winter months.

Fall is also the best time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials. Planting in fall will allow you to buy smaller plants that can grow over winter and burst on the scene in spring and summer. Planting in fall allows the plant’s root system to establish itself over the winter months, requiring less care in the hot spring and summer. Having established plants by spring means less watering you have to do to keep them alive during the hot months. Imagine how much you could enjoy a spring garden if you didn’t have to lug the hose around every morning to keep everything alive as the temperatures go up.

Whatever plant you decide to take a crack at, make sure to inspect it before purchase. The plant should look healthy. Look for damage from aphids, whiteflies, scale, and leafspots. Check to make sure there isn’t significant root damage or bound roots in the pot. Also, pick the plants with buds that have not opened yet so they can bloom best at home.

Florence and Darlington Master Gardeners will be at the festival all three days. We will be there to answer all your plant and gardening questions. If possible, bring us a sample of your problem — like specimens or pictures — to make answering your question easier.

We will also be collecting soil samples. Bring your soil sample and $6 cash or check and we will mail it off for you. Not sure about how to take a soil sample? Check us out online at hgic.com for instructions or stop by the Florence or Darlington Extension Offices and pick up a sampling guide. We will also be available to answer questions about upcoming events and how to sign up for the Winter Master Gardener Class.

The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.

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As the weather gets cooler many people are getting excited for the delicious leafy greens that are coming out of the fields. I was at the City Center Farmers Market this past week and saw the first round of collards and arugula salad mix come off the truck and got so happy and excited!

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