Upper South

October, 2003
Regional Report

Clean Up Iris

Remove and burn decaying leaves from the large-flowered German iris as well as other types and from the related blackberry lily (Belamcanda). Decaying leaves indicate the presence of iris borer, with the eggs overwintering on the plant. By destroying the foliage that can harbor the eggs, pest populations can be kept in check.

Plant Winter Aconite

Among the earliest of the spring-blooming bulbs, winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is particularly notable for its bright yellow flowers. The ground-hugging plants readily reseed and spread, making a spectacular mass planting under trees and shrubs. Plant the small tubers 2 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. Mulch lightly the first winter after planting.

Dig Dahlias

Dahlias can be dug up a few days after a hard frost has blackened the foliage. Cut top growth to 6 to 9 inches above the ground. With a spading fork, carefully dig up the fleshy roots. Lay these roots out, stem-side downward, in a frost-proof place to dry for about 10 days. Then rub off most of the soil and check for damaged tubers, throwing these away. Label and lay in boxes, lightly covering with vermiculite, and store in a cool but frost-free place.

Preserve Gourds

Wipe dried ornamental gourds with a weak bleach or Lysol solution to control fungal diseases. Let dry, then preserve by waxing or lacquering. If desired, decorate with acrylic paints first. Experiment with different stains as well. Gourds decorated with beadwork make beautiful indoor decorations and perfect holiday gifts.

Clean Up Vegetable Garden

Remove spent vegetable plants, composting them if they were healthy, and disposing of any that were diseased. Rake the soil clean, then till the compost into the soil and plant a cover crop, such as winter rye. Remove stakes, cages, and other equipment, washing and drying them thoroughly before storing for the winter.

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