Mid-Atlantic

October, 2008
Regional Report

Spread the Compost

Summer's heat has turned the grass clippings, decaying leaves, moldy veggie debris, and more into microbe-rich gardener's gold. Finished compost bears little resemblance to its original ingredients. It's cooked into earthy-smelling, rich organic humus. Empty the bin and apply compost to perennials, roses, and shrubs that need it most. An inch or two top-dressed over the root area will act as winter mulch and decay into spring fertilizer.

Deadhead Butterfly Bush and Pull Out Seedlings

Butterfly bush can spread too many progeny far and wide. In many areas, it's now considered invasive. Clip off the seedheads and discard where they won't sprout. Pull out seedlings while they're still small. Don't cut back the bush, though. Wait till spring when you see green stems and leaves emerging.

Get Plants in the Ground

I've pots of perennials and several small shrubs still waiting for the perfect location. It's time to just put them in the soil somewhere for the winter -- in an empty garden corner, the open ground around the compost bin, the veggie garden where you pulled out the zucchini plants. This will give them time to root before heavy frost, and you time to envision them in your spring redesign.

Don't Replace a Dead Rhodi With a New One

Resist the urge to plant a new rhododendron or azalea in exactly the same location where one has died. The killing culprit may be water mold fungus (Phytophthora) that lives in the soil. Unfortunately, the fungus will likely infect the roots of the next susceptible rhodi planted there.

Pot Up New Herbs for Sunny Indoor Window

For fresh basil (Thai, Genovese, Purple Ruffled), marjoram, parsley, oregano, and French thyme throughout winter indoors, plant them in a soilless mix of peat with a smidgeon of compost. Sow coriander seeds, too. Garden soil could be too claylike and contain critters better left outside. Water herbs well and put them in your sunniest window. Don't overwater through the winter. Let the soilless mix dry out just a bit. Water with diluted kelp once a month to give herbs a boost.

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