Upper South

September, 2006
Regional Report

Store Leftover Seed

Any vegetable or flower seeds that were not planted can be overwintered by storing in a cool, dry place. One technique for keeping the seed viable is to store it in a sealable jar with a layer of silica gel or powdered milk in the bottom. Another way is to use a vacuum-sealer and keep the bags in the refrigerator. Keep a record of the varieties on hand to help when ordering for next year. There are a lot of variables as to whether the seed will be good next year, but it is worth the effort.

Enjoy Fall Fruits

Harvest apples and pears as well as everbearing raspberries and strawberries, either from your own yard or from a U-pick farm. Many varieties of apples and pears, especially Asian pears, will last for several months in the refrigerator. European pears are also good canned. Many cooks like to freeze apple slices for use in pies. Besides jams and jellies, a good way to preserve berries is to freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet before packaging in freezer bags.

Transplant Annuals and Herbs into Pots

Get at least a few extra months of color and flavor by digging up and transplanting a few annuals and herbs into pots for indoor growing this fall and winter. Coleus, geraniums, wax begonias, and impatiens are the best annuals to try, but don't hesitate to experiment with others. For herbs, try basil, but also consider chives, marjoram, oregano, thyme, and lemongrass. After potting, cut back growth by about half. Keep the soil evenly moist and provide the brightest light possible indoors.

Dry Flowers and Herbs

Cut flowers, such as hydrangeas, strawflowers, amaranth, statice, baby's breath, and celosia, are easily dried for arrangements and crafts by hanging upside down in a dry, well-ventilated area. Also consider pressing some flowers and leaves to use in making holiday gifts. To dry herbs, gather them early in the day after the dew has dried and hang upside down in small bundles. Another option is to strip the leaves from the stems, spread out on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet, and dry in an oven set at the lowest possible setting.

Fertilize Lawns

Fall is the best time to feed the lawn, making two applications between September and December. For established lawns, choose a slow-release fertilizer high in nitrogen, such as 26-4-12, for the first feeding, following in two or three months with a fertilizer higher in phosphorus, such as 14-18-14, as a root-building winterizer. De-thatching and aerating lawns now also helps to promote root growth. Keep mowing lawns regularly at a 3-inch height. A pre-emergent herbicide can be used to prevent winter annual weeds.

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