Upper South

January, 2005
Regional Report

Grow Hyacinths Indoors

The heavenly scent of hyacinths can be yours indoors this winter with the purchase of some prechilled bulbs. Either pot them up or place each bulb in a glass vase specifically designed for them, which keeps the bulb just above the water level so it doesn't rot. Keep them in the dark until the buds are well developed, as light conditions will cause the flower spikes to be shortened. Bring into bright, indirect light when the flower spike is 3 to 4 inches tall.

Use Discarded Christmas Trees

The most often recommended use for old Christmas trees is to cut off the branches and lay them over rose or perennial beds, where they make a most desirable, light, airy mulch. But don\'t overlook the possibility of a discarded tree as a shelter for birds, particularly if you have no trees or shrubs near your feeders. Set the tree in a bucket of sand or nail it in a base of crossed boards to keep it upright.

Peruse Catalogs

Plant catalogs will be arriving in abundance now. If you don't already receive some of the specialist catalogs, consider ordering several, as they open up a lot of possibilities and make great references as well. Finalize orders for seeds and plants as soon as possible so the special items on your list won't be sold out. Include some heirloom varieties, some of your own tried-and-true favorites, and some items that are new or different.

Controlling Winter Weeds

As unfair as it is, certain weeds thrive during the winter, most notably chickweed and henbit. Take advantage of any mild weather to remove them. There are several options for keeping them at bay once an area is clear. Spread an organic mulch, or, if the area cleared is a vegetable garden, consider laying plastic mulch down until spring. Or consider the pre-emergent corn gluten herbicide that\'s a by-product of corn syrup production.

Relax While You Can

Garden calendars invariably suggest a variety of tasks to accomplish during the winter, including making an inventory of garden supplies, cleaning and sharpening tools, pruning trees and shrubs, painting and repairing garden furniture, and so forth. Another option is to sit in a nice, comfortable chair, preferably facing the bird feeders, and become immersed in a well-written garden book, a stack of catalogs, or the infinite gardening links of the Web.

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