Upper South

September, 2008
Regional Report

Dig and Repot Herbs

Even without perfect indoor growing conditions, it's possible to grow at least a few herbs as houseplants. If they only live until the holidays, that' still a bonus. The easiest way is to dig up growing plants from the garden. This works best with basil, chives, garlic chives, rosemary, marjoram, and summer savory. Because of its taproot, parsley doesn't transplant well. Or try starting some herbs from seed, especially miniature basil, dill (try the short-growing variety 'Fernleaf'), chives, and parsley.

Store Leftover Seed

Although the shelf life of seed varies, the expense of seed makes it worthwhile to store it over the winter. The best method is to package it in vacuum-sealed bags in the freezer. If that's not available, try putting them in a glass jar along with some silica gel or powdered milk, for absorbing moisture. Store this in the freezer or a cool, dry place. Before buying seeds next spring, test the germination by placing a few seeds on a dampened paper towel, sprinkling the seeds on the paper and rolling it up. Check after a week or so.

Plant Trees and Shrubs

Take advantage of sales at nurseries and garden centers because fall is a good time to plant container-grown or balled-and-burlapped nursery plants. They'll get a head start on root development during the autumn months, so they'll grow better next spring and summer. When planting in the fall, it's important to keep plants watered well until the ground freezes. Apply a 4- to 6-inch-deep hardwood mulch around the base, keeping it several inches from the trunk.

Clean Up the Food Garden

Remove and dispose of fallen fruits, twigs, and leaves around apple, crab apple, peach, and other fruiting plants, as well as any vegetable crops that have stopped producing. This will reduce disease and insect carryover into next year. Do not compost disease- or insect-infested plant material. Thin fall crops that were planted earlier. Control cabbageworms on cole crops, such as turnips, cabbages, and Brussels sprouts.

Decorate Naturally for Fall

Grocery stores, garden centers, farmers' markets, and your own yard offer an abundance of material for celebrating the fall season. Certainly, there is an abundance of flowering chrysanthemums, but don't overlook the asters, which are much more reliably hardy. Besides pumpkins, look to the wide variety of gourds and winter squash. Use spent cornstalks to make cornshocks. Remember, too, to use dried grasses and other plant material in bouquets, wreaths, and other decorations.

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