Middle South

October, 2004
Regional Report

Till the Vegetable Garden

Tilling your vegetable garden in fall can help control insects because it exposes overwintering pests to winter weather. After tilling, plant a fall cover crop, such as winter wheat or rye, to protect the soil over the winter. The cover crop also will add organic matter to the soil when you till it in next spring.

Bring Houseplants Indoors

Begin bringing in tender houseplants that have spent the summer outside. First, carefully examine plants for signs of insect pests. A few mealybugs or spider mites can quickly multiply into a big problem when they\'re brought into a warm, dry, predator-free indoor environment.

Fill Birdbath and Feeders

Invite migrating birds to take a rest at your house by keeping your birdbath cleaned and filled with fresh water. If you stopped stocking your bird feeder during the summer, start again now that birds need the nutrient- and calorie-rich seeds to prepare for winter.

Clean Up Rose Beds

Rake up fallen rose leaves, remove old mulch under rose bushes, and pluck off the last remaining leaves to remove overwintering insects and disease organisms. Dispose of all of it in the garbage, not the compost pile.

Harvest Tomatoes

Tomatoes will stop ripening on the vine when daytime highs reach only into the 60s, so begin bringing full-sized green fruit indoors to ripen. There are plenty of ways to use green tomatoes -- from frying to salsa -- so harvest them all!

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