Upper South

September, 2005
Regional Report

Pick Pears

Pears should be picked when just a little too firm to be eaten. Store for a week in a cool, dark place, then bring them out as needed for eating. The varieties that ripen latest should be stored for two weeks or more before using. Pick Asian pears as they ripen and store in a refrigerator or cool, dark place; some varieties will store for many months this way. Pears may also be canned for winter use.

Enjoy Roses

The cool weather of autumn means a last flush of flowers from reblooming roses. The lower temperatures mean larger and deeper-colored blooms. Be sure to cut some flowers for enjoying indoors. For the longest vase life, cut the buds just as they begin to loosen. Cut above a leaf with five leaflets. Immediately place the stems in warm water with floral preservative. Set in a cool dark place for 4 hours, then arrange them.

Repair Lawn

Patch bare spots in the lawn now. Loosen the top 2 inches of soil and work in some granular fertilizer as well as some lime, both according to manufacturer's recommendations, then sow grass seed. After spreading the seed, tamp in lightly with a garden rake so that there is good contact between the seed and soil. Add a light cover of straw, then water well.

Grow Kitty Grass

Just as some people enjoy the nutritional rewards of newly sprouted wheat grass, so do cats benefit from nibbling on a mixture of healthy young grains. Combine a mixture of equal parts oats, wheat, rye, and barley seeds (available in small quantities from some mail-order seed catalogs). Punch holes in the bottom of a disposable aluminum cake pan and fill with moistened potting soil. Cover the surface with the seed mixture and water. The seeds sprout in a few days. In a week, the grass will be ready to offer to your cat.

Rejuvenate Hostas

Although hostas thrive for years without needing to be divided, ones that have become overgrown, slug-eaten, or that you want to spread out over a larger area, can be divided in the fall. Cut back the foliage, dig up the entire plant, and then cut the plant into several pieces. Replant into a well-prepared area, spacing according to the ultimate size of the plant. This can also be done in the spring, but dividing in the fall gives the hostas a head-start on the next growing season.

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