Lower South

October, 2004
Regional Report

Plant Cool-Season Veggies

Continue to plant cole crops including broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, and collards. Other veggies to plant now that the weather has cooled a bit include radishes, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and turnips. A light scattering of pine needles over the seedbed will reduce soil drying and help seedlings get off to a good start.

Plant Naturalizing Bulbs and Other Perennial Flowers

Now is a good time to plant naturalizing bulbs, which are those species adapted to our climate that return dependably for years of beauty and enjoyment. Narcissus, oxblood lilies (Rhodophiala bifida), spider lilies (Lycoris>), amaryllis, and rain lilies (Zephranthes) are among the time-tested choices. Work a few inches of compost into the soil prior to planting.

Protect Tender Plants From Hungry Pests

Sprays containing Bacillus thuringiensis are an effective, natural, low-toxicity way to prevent caterpillars from turning your broccoli, cabbage, and other veggies into Swiss cheese. Cool-season greens and ornamental flowers are a favorite target of caterpillars, beetles, and aphids. Spread a lightweight row cover fabric over the row after planting, leaving extra slack in the cover to allow for plants to grow. Secure the edges with boards or soil and the plants will grow virtually pest free right up until harvest.

Harvest Sweet Potatoes

When a frost or freeze is forecast, go ahead and harvest sweet potatoes. The tops of the roots are exposed to the air through cracks in the soil and can be cold damaged if left out in the garden. Store the roots in a warm, moist location for two to three weeks for curing, and then move them to a cool, dry location for long-term storage.

Dig and Store Caladium Tubers For Next Spring

If you wish to save caladium tubers for another year, dig them now and allow them to dry for a week or so in a well-ventilated but shaded area. Remove dried leaves and carefully brush off soil. Store in a cool area where the temperature will not go below about 55 degrees.

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