Upper South

September, 2008
Regional Report

Pick Pears

Pears should be picked when just a little too firm to be eaten. Store for a week in a cool, dark place, then bring them out as needed for eating. The varieties that ripen latest should be stored for two weeks or more before using. Pick Asian pears as they ripen and store in a refrigerator or cool, dark place; some varieties will store for many months this way. Pears may also be canned for winter use.

Bring Houseplants Indoors

Houseplants that have summered outdoors should be moved indoors before night temperatures consistently fall below 50 to 55 degrees F. Even after a clean bill of health with a visual check for pests, it's not a bad idea to spray with a houseplant insecticide before bringing them inside. For most plants, repotting is better for plants when they're in active growth in the spring, but if a plant is especially potbound, don't hesitate to repot it now. If you have good light conditions indoors, it is also beneficial to fertilizer regularly during the winter.

Repair Lawn

Patch bare spots in the lawn now. Loosen the top 2 inches of soil and work in some granular fertilizer as well as some lime, both according to manufacturer's recommendations, then sow grass seed. After spreading the seed, tamp in lightly with a garden rake so that there is good contact between the seed and soil. Add a light cover of straw, then water well.

Begin Planting Spring-Flowering Bulbs

Spring-blooming bulbs are best planted at least four to six weeks before the ground freezes in order to have good root formation. For the upper south, ground-freezing is usually some time from mid-November to mid-December, so work backwards from that. Start by planting those bulbs that bloom the earliest, then progress through the later-blooming ones. For the most visual impact, plant the bulbs in clusters rather than straight lines. Be sure to try types you've never grown before. The large-flowered alliums are an especially spectacular addition to the garden.

Rejuvenate Hostas

Although hostas thrive for years without needing to be divided, ones that have become overgrown, slug-eaten, or that you want to spread out over a larger area, can be divided in the fall. Cut back the foliage, dig up the entire plant, and then cut the plant into several pieces. Replant into a well-prepared area, spacing according to the ultimate size of the plant. This can also be done in the spring, but dividing in the fall gives the hostas a head-start on the next growing season.

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