It seems oddly hasty to be thinking about a fall garden's harvest when temperatures are still soaring into the mid-90s. But now is the time to plant for fall in order for flowers and vegetables to mature before the first big frost bites.
Two local horticultural centers are helping gardeners get a jump on the season with upcoming plant sales. Both will sell starts - fledgling plants that have been grown from seeds in nurseries and carefully nurtured to the point they are ready to plant. They're a great shortcut for gardeners.
At Crabtree Farms, gardeners can shop for sustainably grown fruit, vegetables, herbs and perennial flowers. Andrea Jaeger, spokeswoman for the urban farm, says that, in addition to the Sept. 6 plant sale, there will be yoga classes for kids, 10 craftsmen, food vendors and even a sale of cooking and gardening books by Friends of the Chattanooga Public Library.
Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center's sale on Sept. 12-14 will specialize in native plants. These indigenous plants are successful in local landscapes because they have already adapted to area growth cycles and weather so they require less care in watering, fertilization or pest control.
"Native plants give a sense of place," says Paola Craddock, who manages greenhouses at the arboretum. "If you want to create something that looks like it belongs here, native plants are the best choice. If you want to make a habitat for butterflies and birds, the food that native plants produce is better."
12TH FALL PLANT SALE & FESTIVAL
• When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6.
• Where: 1000 E. 30th St.
• Phone: 423-493-9155.
• Admission: Free.
• Plants for sale: Several varieties of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, kale, Swiss chard; two varieties of blueberries, Celeste fig, muscadine grape and Goji berries. Herbs such as cilantro, fennel, rosemary, lemongrass and oregano; perennials including bee balm, prairie sage and Tennessee coneflower echinacea.
• Cost: Most plants are $3.50-$4, however larger plants in gallon containers are $8-$10.
• Workshops: "Fall Gardening Q&A" with Crabtree Farms' manager Sara McIntyre at 10 a.m.; "Composting: Easy as Dirt" with Master Gardener Bud Hines at 11 a.m., "Five-Minute Cheese" with CeCe McDermott of 423 Balm at noon. No preregistration required for workshops.
• Also on-site: Ten craftsmen with handmade wares such as bar soap from 423 Soaps, all-natural dog treats from Barley Bones, handmade jewelry, home decor from Marshall and Rose, marinades and relishes, tinctures from Fireside Botanicals and herbs from Down to Earth. Food vendors include Pedal Pusher Coffee Cart, Rusty's Nutz and King of Pops.
• New this year: Kids' yoga classes at 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Also, Friends of the Chattanooga Public Library will hold a book sale, and its members will read to children throughout the day.
• When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Sept. 12-13; noon-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14.
• Where: Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center, 400 Garden Road.
• Phone: 423-821-1160.
• Admission: Free.
• Plants for sale: 110 species of native plants. Experienced gardeners will be on hand to answer visitors' questions.
• Cost: $4-$8 for perennials, depending on size; $13-$15 shrubs and trees.
• Workshops: "Plant Now for Spring Hummingbirds" by Chris Mahoney, 11 a.m. Friday; "Why and How to Plant Natives in the Fall" by Chris Mahoney, 10:30 a.m. Saturday; "Fall Foraging in the Forest" by Holli Richey, 11:30 a.m. Saturday; "Teaching Nature to Children" by Jean Lomino, 1 p.m. Sunday.
• Also on-site: Natural history walk led by Michael Green, 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday; fern walk led by Rick Jahn, 2:30 p.m. Saturday; mushroom foray led by Hill Craddock, 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also, the C.E. Blevins bird eggs exhibit and the Wildlife Wanderland will be open from 3:30-5 p.m. Sunday.
• New this year: "We are really focusing on providing plants that are attractive to butterflies as a source of food and nectar," says Paola Craddock. "We have a new butterfly garden on the property that was made in partnership with Wild Ones. It is right behind the Visitors Center. It will be open to visitors. There is a new butterfly book by Rita Venable, 'Butterflies of Tennessee,' that will be for sale for $25."
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.