Middle South

December, 2005
Regional Report

Check Old Seeds

Before placing your seed orders, do a germination test on stored seeds to see how viable they are. To do this, place 20 seeds between two sheets of moist paper towel and tuck it into a loosely tied plastic bag. Place in a warm area, and check every few days. If germination is less than 80 percent, consider purchasing new seed of that crop.

Continue Composting

Continue adding prunings and vegetable scraps to your compost pile throughout the winter. Although the composting process slows down in cold weather, it will pick up again when the weather warms in the spring. Cover the pile loosely with a tarp to prevent it from getting soggy.

Propagate African Violets

African violets make great houseplants and will flower in winter if given supplemental light. To propagate new plants, take a leaf cutting, dip the cut end in a rooting hormone powder, such as Rootone, and stick the cutting in a pot filled with vermiculite or sand. Cover the pot with a perforated clear plastic bag and keep the soil moist. In a few weeks you'll have new plants.

Avoid Using Salt to Deice

Although salt does melt ice, it can also damage plant roots. Where possible, use sand or kitty litter to provide traction, or use one of the commercially available products made to melt ice without damaging plants.

Care for Amaryllis

With some care you can coax your amaryllis to bloom again next year. Cut back the flower stalk (but not the leaves) and continue watering and fertilizing the bulb. In summer, place the pot outdoors in a protected environment. In fall, bring it indoors and let the leaves die back and the bulb go dormant. In November, start watering again, and it may bloom again in the winter.

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