Tropical South

January, 2004
Regional Report

Water Compost Piles

They aren't working as fast in the cooler temperatures, but they will work better if you remember they should be 1/3 organic matter, 1/3 air, and 1/3 water. If they get too dry, they'll hardly work at all. Layer green and brown material as much as you can, and add a layer of manure (I got some for Christmas!) or a cheap dog food every so often as an activator.

Avoid Washing or Blowing Yard Trash Down the Storm Drains

It is against the law, since it puts added and unnecessary strain on the sewer system. It is also a waste of good mulch. Blow those leaves and grass clippings up around your shrubs instead or into a bunch you can gather up to put on the compost pile or where you most need the mulch.

Keep Plants Watered, Especially if Frost Threatens

Healthy plants are more frost tolerant, and wet ground holds more heat than dry ground does. Days are short now and growth is slower. But if it doesn\'t rain, thirsty plants, such as annuals and vegetables, those in containers, and those newly planted, should be watered as needed to prevent cold damage.

Prune Soon After Bloom Stops

Now is the time to prune fall and winter bloomers. The mailman is always glad when my cassia finally gets back out of the street, but he never complains. The bush sunflowers can be cut back considerably and may still be nipped by frost, but they will come back.

Plant Flowers and Vegetables

It is not too late to plant seeds for plants that will bloom from spring through summer, such as ammi, larkspur, and cosmos. It is also a good time to plant the cold-loving vegetables like English peas (sugar pods will yield more for less work) cabbage, broccoli,
cauliflower, kale, arugula, celery, lettuce, and radishes. Water seeds lightly every day until they are up and growing.

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