Coastal and Tropical South

November, 2008
Regional Report

Avoid Overwatering

The number one reason that container plants die is because they are overwatered. If you're unsure about the needs of a particular plant, look it up. In general, plants in interior spaces need less water than they would outside. Water houseplants well and check on them every few days. Stick your index finger into the top of the soil to determine its moisture. When it's dry to your first knuckle, it's time to water. If a plant wilts, you've waited too long!

Garden Clean Up

If you've had pest problems, either insects or fungus, get the garden cleaned up now to slow down their recurrence. Rake leaves as they drop and compost them to prevent wet spots in the lawn. Cut back overgrown perennials and spent annuals so their dying stems do not become breeding grounds for fungus. Scoop the leaves out of pots you're bringing indoors, and use a damp cloth to wipe the pots, too.

Thinning Seedlings

Okay, they're up and growing. The chard, larkspur, carrots, leeks, coreopsis, or whatever you've seeded need to be thinned. It's painful to take out some so the others have room to grow, and tempting to try and transplant some. Unless you can lift the extras without disturbing the remaining plants, forget it. It's better to clip the crowded babies at ground level rather than pull them up if it means the others will be uprooted. Pick your method, but give the seedlings the space it takes for them to mature and reward your efforts.

Fertilize What's Growing

Too often gardeners feel the cool breezes of November and simply stop to smell the roses. That's fine, but lots of plants are just getting growing and some need fertilizer. Annual plants, from broccoli to candytuft and larkspur, benefit from regular fertilizing. If your favorite product recommends monthly applications, cut the amount in half and use it twice a month.

Harvest Now

I've picked satsumas, lemons, and kumquats recently, and hope you have, too. All the citrus are in full harvest mode, but one of their delicious qualities is the ability to store them. Pick as you eat, keep the trees watered, and let the crop stay on the tree until you need it.

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