Upper South

January, 2004
Regional Report

Get a Head Start on Weeds

Chickweed grows quickly during the winter. Prevent its spread by pulling the plants in flower beds and borders, around shrubs, and in lawns throughout the winter. To keep it from going to seed and spreading further, apply a safe pre-emergent herbicide, such as corn gluten. Don't forget to add some to salads, as it is a nutritious green.

Check Stored Bulbs

Tender bulbs, such as tuberose, dahlia, and caladium, that are dug up in the fall and stored overwinter in a cool, dry place should be checked periodically to make sure they are not rotting. They are best stored in mesh bags hung up where rodents cannot get to them. If there are signs of rot, cut out the affected parts and dust with garden sulfur.

Avoid Walking on Lawns

Walking on grass in winter, especially when it's frozen, can seriously injure or destroy it. If you find yourself continually wanting to walk across a certain area, consider installing a path. Use this time to plan a new walkway. Perhaps a few simple stepping stones will be enough. Otherwise, make preparations for installing a brick, stone, or other type of path when the weather warms.

Test Soil

Beat the rush and have your soil tested now, so that you'll have the proper fertilizer when spring arrives. To take a sample, clear away debris and plant material from a small area. Dig a hole 4 inches deep and, with a knife, shave a half inch slice from the vertical wall of the hole. Repeat this in about ten places. Combine the samples and dry. Check the phone directory or your County Extension office to find out where to send the sample.

Trim Trees

Arborists often have more time available in the winter months, so if major tree trimming is needed in your yard, make arrangements now. This also is a good time for light pruning and trimming that you can do yourself. Remove dead, weak, or diseased wood and suckers, as well as any wood that will improve the shape of plants. The only exception is that it's usually best to wait to prune spring-flowering trees and shrubs until just after they've flowered.

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