Upper South

January, 2008
Regional Report

Eat Your Winter Vegetables

Summer isn't the only time for mouthwatering food. The vegetables of winter have their own luscious appeal, whether in soups or stews or showcased individually. Roasting vegetables is not only the easiest way to prepare many of these, but many people also consider it the most flavorful way to cook, as it concentrates flavors. Some of the best winter vegetables for roasting include Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnips, celeriac, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and onions.

Get Seed-Starting Supplies Ready

It's already time to start slow-growing vegetables and flowers indoors, such as leeks, onions, begonias, and petunias. For faster-growing plants like tomatoes and zinnias, it's better to wait until mid-March. Either way, it's not too early to begin getting supplies together, including seed flats and containers; seed-starting soil, cubes, pellets, or whatever you prefer; a heat mat and thermostat, and fluorescent lights.

Prepare Birdhouses

Those cute birdhouses that are so widely sold are great for decorating the house or garden, but most birds are much more likely to use and successfully raise a family in a substantial structure that is truly built for them. Different-sized houses and entrance holes attract different birds. Ventilation holes and access for cleaning the bird house are important, too. For more information about building and maintaining birdhouses, visit The Birdhouse Network at: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/birdhouse.

Plan for a Cut Flower Garden

As you order seeds, bulbs, and plants for the upcoming gardening season, consider ones that will make great cut flowers for bouquets in your home and for sharing with others. Among the good choices for large bouquets are pollen-free sunflowers, gladiolus, summer-blooming phlox, Shasta daisies, asters, lilies, tall zinnias like 'Benary's Giant', and tall snapdragons like 'Rocket'.

Get Inspired for the Gardening Season

Gather momentum and excitement for the upcoming gardening season by subscribing to a gardening magazine; attending a garden workshop, lecture, or course; or attending a flower show. Talk with other gardeners about their favorite plants and garden techniques. Plan on growing at least one new vegetable that you've never grown before. Buy yourself a high-quality spade or other gardening tool that you've always wanted.

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