Middle South

November, 2005
Regional Report

Mulch the Vegetable Garden

Bare soil invites weeds, so cover empty beds in your vegetable garden with a layer of straw or shredded leaves. This will help keep hardy weeds from taking over. In the spring, you may be able to plant directly through the mulch without the need for tilling.

Invite Winter Birds

Winter birds add color and interest to your winter landscape. To encourage birds to stay in your garden this winter, set out feeders near evergreen trees or shrubs so birds have winter cover while they feed. However, if you have bird-chasing cats, or if raiding squirrels are a problem, hang the feeders higher off the ground and away from trees and structures. Keep birdbaths ice-free and filled with fresh water.

Drain Irrigation Systems

Before the hard freezes come, drain the water out of any irrigation hoses so they don't crack. Temporary PVC pipes should be lifted from the ground, drained, and stored in an unheated garage, shed, or basement. Rubber or vinyl hoses should be disconnected, drained, and hung up to be sure any excess water left in the hose drains out.

Examine Houseplants for Pests

Examine houseplants for signs of pests, focusing your attention on the new growth, the leaf axils (where the leaf meets the stem), and the undersides of the leaves. Look for fine webbing (mites), white cottony-looking spots (mealybugs), a flurry of tiny white insects (whiteflies), and a sticky substance on leaves (the honeydew secreted by scale and other insects). All of these can be controlled by washing foliage with warm, soapy water or with sprays of insecticidal soap.

Keep Christmas Tree Watered

Make sure your Christmas tree remains sitting in an inch or two of water. Not only will this keep the tree fresh and retard needle drop, it will also minimize the risk of fire. Hang your evergreen wreath outdoors out of direct sun, and spritz the back with water every day or two to prolong its life.

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