Coastal and Tropical South

November, 2008
Regional Report

Fire Ants

Big areas of our regions are plagued by fire ants, and fall doesn't slow them down. The most efficient approach is to treat the entire property with a baited product. As with most strategies, organic products take longer to work, but do not have as devastating an impact on the rest of the garden's ecology. That's another argument for identifying the problem early, while the population is limited.

Planting Decisions

The best days to transplant shrubs and trees share three criteria: cloudy skies, little wind, and moderate temperatures. It doesn't matter whether the plants are grown in nursery pots or waiting to be dug up in one place to land in another, transplant shock is a real problem. Its symptoms may include immediate wilting or leaf drop, but can also be subtle, such as the vaguely named "failure to thrive." Choosing a favorable day for transplanting can help prevent such shocks.

Don't Forget to Feed

Some annual flowers, vegetables, and herbs are entering their most active growth periods. Keep them watered if Nature doesn't, and fertilize regularly except in truly freezing weather. Everything in this category, from greens to calendulas, keeps growing most all winter, with your assistance.

Hosting Daffodils

Though it's early for tulips and hyacinth to come out of the refrigerator, November is prime time to plant all members of the daffodil family. Paperwhite narcissus can be planted in the garden or in gravel for forcing as holiday gifts and table decorations. Daffodils for naturalizing in gardens should be planted no deeper than twice their height; that is, a 3-inch bulb can be planted 5 to 6 inches deep in heavy soils.

Newspaper Mulch

Yes, there's are ways to recycle newspaper besides rolling them into fireplace log alternatives. Fill vermiculture trays with shredded newspaper to feed the worms. Lay three sheets deep in the walking paths of your vegetable or kitchen garden and cover lightly with mulch to keep the weeds down. It'll also keep the paths more walkable during rainy weather. And in areas where weeds have taken over, cut them down and pile the newspaper 5 or 6 sheets deep. Cover with plastic and leave until spring. It's not solarization, but simple suppression and it helps.

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