Middle South

September, 2008
Regional Report

Pot Up Perennial Herbs to Bring Indoors

Divide perennial herbs like chives, parsley, thyme, and oregano and pot them up. Set them in part shade for a few weeks to let them settle into their containers. Then examine them carefully for insects and bring them indoors. Put them in a sunny windowsill or under a fluorescent light in a cool room, and you'll have a source of fresh herbs for months, if not all winter.

Start New Garden Beds

If you're planning to add a new garden next spring, start now. Mow the area close (scalp it) and leave the clippings. Add a layer of cardboard or newspapers, moisten them, and cover the area with as much organic matter as you can find -- grass clippings, fallen leaves, vegetable scraps. The more the better. Then top it off with a thin layer of compost. Moisten the material to the dampness of a wrung-out sponge, then cover it with a tarp. Next spring you can either rototill the area or, if the material is decomposed enough, just plant right through it.

Choose the Right Bulbs

When deciding what flowering bulbs to buy, remember: the bigger the bulb, the bigger the flower display. However, larger bulbs are more expensive than smaller ones, so consider buying premium bulbs for viewing up close. Opt for bags of landscaper specials to cover large areas, knowing the flowers won't be as big or as plentiful. But they'll still be beautiful.

It's Time for Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums are showing up in stores and front lawns everywhere. Arguably overused, they're still beautiful and come in a surprising range of colors. You can use them as one-time displays or plant them right in the garden and treat them as you would other perennials. Note that the flower display you get next year may not be quite as dramatic, but then again it will look more natural than greenhouse plants that are forced into bloom.

Remove Synthetic Burlap

Fall is for planting, especially trees and shrubs. Even as air temperatures cool down, roots will continue to grow for several months in the warm soil. If you're planting balled and burlapped trees and shrubs, examine the burlap to see if it's synthetic or natural. If it's synthetic, it won't rot so you'll want to remove it once the plant is in the planting hole. Natural burlap will degrade, but slowly, so slice it down away from the rootball. If in doubt, remove as much of the material as possible.

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