Mid-Atlantic

October, 2003
Regional Report

Fight Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats look like fruit flies around your plants. They thrive in overly wet potting mix. Fight them by spreading a thin layer of sand or gravel on the soil surface, and avoid overwatering your plants. If that doesn\'t help, try a soil drench such as Gnatrol.

Harvest Leaves

Falling autumn leaves are an excellent source of organic matter to use for soil improvement, as well as a great mulch material free for the collecting. Don't let them go to waste! If desired, chop them up with the lawn mower, a weed whacker set inside a trash can, or a chipper shredder.

Extend the Season

Consider using your cold frame, frost blankets, or a poly tunnel to shelter some late-season greens, such as lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard, along with a little parsley for garnish. These cool-season vegetables will remain in edible condition well past frost if you provide a little extra protection.

Plan for Next Fall's Colorful Display

The foliage of fall provides a glorious and easy-to-orchestrate landscape display -- if we keep it in mind when we shop for plants. Make notes or take photos now so you'll have them to jog your color memory when you peruse the plant catalogs this winter or shop the nurseries next spring.

Watch for Pests on Houseplants

If you brought tropical plants inside to a sunny windowsill for the winter, inspect them weekly for emerging signs of pests, such as whitefly, spider mites, aphids, and scale insects. These can usually be treated successfully with insecticidal soap if you catch the problem early.

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