Mid-Atlantic

October, 2003
Regional Report

Add to Compost

End-of-the-season garden clean up as well as autumn leaves provide excellent raw material for the compost pile. Use pest- and disease-free organic debris, but try to avoid adding weed seeds. Shredding is not required for successful composting, but shredded material will break down and compost more quickly.

Top Off Mulch

Fall is a great time to rake and fluff the existing mulch layer, then top it up using chopped autumn leaves or half finished compost or your favorite mulch from the garden center. Delay any heavy mulching until later in the fall when the ground is frozen.

Test Soil

As things wind down, take a little time to collect soil samples and send them off for that often neglected chore: soil testing. Find out if your soil is acid or alkaline; whether or not it is rich in nutrients; and if you need to supplement, how much. Testing is much more accurate than guessing!

Exclude Ladybugs

If your house is being accosted by ladybugs, grab the nearest caulk gun and get busy closing any gaps, cracks, or crevices through which they might gain entry into your home, both living space and attic. Ladybugs are wonderful at controlling aphids in the garden but such a nuisance in the house.

Disappearing Bulbs

If squirrels are digging up and stealing or rearranging your new fall-planted bulbs, cover the planting area with wire mesh hidden under a layer of mulch. If mice/voles are the culprit, enclose your bulbs in a wire mesh cage underground. Some gardeners also report success using repellents sold at the garden center.

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