Lower South

September, 2005
Regional Report

Protect Tender Vegetable Plants from Hungry Pests

Using sprays containing Bt is an effective, natural, low-toxicity way to prevent caterpillars from turning your broccoli, cabbage, and other veggies into Swiss cheese. Cool-season greens 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.

Fertilize the Lawn

Apply 1/2 to 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet to your lawn in early to mid-October. To determine how much it takes to make a pound of nitrogen, take the first number on the fertilizer bag and divide it into 100 to get the pounds of your fertilizer to apply.

Spread a Compost Blanket

A layer of compost in the fall can be a boost for flower beds, shrubs, and lawn areas. Apply a half-inch layer around shrubs and flowers as a surface mulch. As winter rains percolate through the compost, they'll take with them some of the nutrients to enrich the soil for the growing plants. If your lawn is thinning from the stress of a long, hot summer, spread screened compost about 1/3 inch deep and water it in well to help prepare it for the winter season ahead.

Plant Mums for Perennial Beauty

Chrysanthemums put on their big show in the fall. There are many great varieties to plant in the southern garden. One of my favorites is 'Country Girl', with its large, single blooms in fading shades of pink. The plant's sprawling habit makes it a great choice for a cottage-style perennial border.

Plant Cool-Season Containers

This is a great time to plant some cool-season containers to decorate a front porch or back patio. Include some fall-blooming perennials, as well as some cool-season annuals like pansies, violas, alyssum, dusty miller, flowering cabbage, and flowering kale. You can always move containers in when a really hard freeze threatens.

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