Middle South

November, 2006
Regional Report

Add Lime to Gardens

It takes some time for powdered limestone to dissolve and begin its job of raising soil pH. Therefore, fall is a good time to add lime to gardens and lawns. It will have several months to dissolve before planting season begins in the spring. Depending on the results of a soil test, spread lime with a lawn spreader, using the powdered or pelleted forms. If your soil needs magnesium as well as lime, use dolomitic limestone.

Invite Winter Birds

Winter birds can add some color and interest to an otherwise bleak 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 your birdbath ice-free with a birdbath heater and keep adding fresh water.

Mulch Cold-Hardy Root Vegetables

If you have a root cellar or another method of storing root vegetables, go ahead and harvest them. If you don't, then wait to harvest. Instead, cover mature plantings of carrots, beets, and parsnips with a thick layer of straw. This will insulate the soil and prevent the ground from alternate freezing and thawing, and you'll be able to harvest fresh produce into early winter by moving aside the straw and digging the roots.

Drain Irrigation Systems

Before the hard freezes come, drain the water out of any irrigation pipes and rubber hoses. Water freezing in pipes and hoses can cause them to 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.

Mulch Vegetable Gardens

Bare soil invites weeds. 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.

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