Coastal and Tropical South
Controlling English Ivy
English ivy is considered a pest plant by the Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council, but it is everywhere. The problem arises when it escapes cultivation, shades out low-growing plants, and climbs over shrubs and small trees to envelope and strangle them. Control yours by cutting it back each winter or spring.
Tending a Pineapple Flower
Like other bromeliads, mature pineapple plants form a bloom stalk that rises from the center to towering heights. Unlike most of its relatives, a pineapple's flower is delicious. It's heavy, so stake it, and when half turns to gold, cut it off and ripen it in a plastic bag with a cut apple.
Making Herb Vinegar
Craft stores have cork-topped bottles, perfect for gifts of herb vinegar. In each bottle place: 1 bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon mustard seed, 1 sprig rosemary, 1 cayenne pepper, 1 peeled garlic clove, 2 sprigs basil, and 5 peppercorns. Fill with white vinegar and seal for one month.
Saving Woodpecker Trees
With so many trees lost, and even more seriously damaged this year, it's important to consider the positive impact, at least a bit. Firewood is plentiful, if unnecessary, and both professionals and hobbyists are turning downed trees into furniture. If it's practical, leave a tree or two as a 12-foot trunk for woodpeckers.
Repairing Damaged Ponds
Don't assume your pond survived the summer unscathed. If trees or other debris fell into it, or destroyed the rocks and plants around it, the liner could be compromised. Clean it out, then drain enough water away to examine the liner, pump, and filter for damage. If you find any damage, remove the plants and repair it.