Northern & Central Midwest

October, 2004
Regional Report

Water Your Plants This Fall

The entire Midwest has had less rain than usual this fall, so continue to water newly planted trees and shrubs -- especially evergreens -- up until the ground freezes. Many will still take up water in the warmer soil until frost absolutely penetrates it. Evergreens never go completely dormant.

Reuse Container Soil

Don't empty the soil out of your containers. You can keep soilless mix to use another year as long as you mix equal parts of the old mix with fresh mix or freshly screened compost. Be sure to give your container plants an extra dose of fertilizer next year if you reuse this soil.

Store Summer-Blooming Bulbs

Calla lilies, cannas and many other summer bulbs that were grown in containers can be brought indoors for the winter. Cut the foliage back and leave bulbs in an unheated, dry basement. Check periodically to make sure they aren't rotting. Some bulbs, such as tuberous begonias and gladioli, should be removed from the containers and stored without soil.

Watch for Pests on Houseplants

Keep very careful watch on your houseplants that spent the summer outdoors. Watch for pests and signs of disease, and isolate a plant at the first sign. Horticultural oil is one of the best controls for most insect pests. Spray at 10-day intervals until the pest is under control.

Clean Up the Vegetable Garden

After a hard frost remove all plant debris, including mulch, from the vegetable garden. Pests overwinter in debris, so removing it will go a long way toward reducing pests next year. Spread 2 inches of organic matter, such as compost or composted manure, on top of the beds.

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