In the Garden:
Lower South
November, 2009
Regional Report

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Fall is a good time to work leaves into garden beds to prepare the soil for late winter to spring planting.

Fall Is THE Season for Gardening!

I love the fall! There is just no gardening season like it. The plants seem to agree, too. My marigolds are blooming like they never do in the heat of summer. Their colors seem more vivid than ever before. In fact the chrysanthemums are complaining about being upstaged by these gorgeous prima donnas! If that isn't enough, the spider mites that normally plague them are a thing of the past with these cooling temperatures.

Fall is great for vegetables too. Snap beans that ripen in the cooler days of fall taste especially wonderful. Our cool-season veggies are really taking off during these moderately cool, sunny days.

The winter squashes are ready for harvest and have turned their characteristic colors. They will give plenty of culinary boosts to our upcoming winter meals. I'm especially fond of the Kabocha type squash. Scoop out the center and fill it with a mixture of meat, cheese, and herbs for seasoning, and then pop them in the oven for baking. WOW, what a dish!

All those leaves provided this time of year are a great blessing to the garden. The compost bin is cranking up again, and the rest gets stockpiled for later use in summer mulching and composting.

I appreciate this annual deluge of falling foliage. It's like pennies from heaven as the cycle of nature provides free mulch and composting materials. You can't beat these free leaves for building a poor old soil into the best on earth.

True gardening fanatics can even get pleasure from heading out to the garden early in the morning on a crisp fall day to sit and have a cup of coffee by the compost pile as the stem rises up from the busy microorganisms turning trash to treasure. Ahhh, I love the smell of compost in the morning! Wasn't there a movie line like that?

Landscape woody ornamentals and most perennial do very well if planted in the fall. Planting now gives them plenty of time to establish root into their new location before the onset of hot weather next spring. Fall planting gives them a head start, and an advantage over plants set out next spring. Fall is the best time to move a plant from one location to another for the same reason stated above.

If you haven't discovered the joys of fall gardening, take advantage of our wonderful southern climate this fall. You may find that you've been missing a super season for gardening. Better go now, I've got a row of lettuce and spinach to plant and some container-grown rose bushes to set out. Happy planting!


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