Upper South

November, 2008
Regional Report

Divide and Conquer

In these last several weeks before the ground freezes, there is still time to dig and divide perennials. Although certain perennials require specific techniques, the general guidelines are to loosen the soil around the plant with a shovel or garden fork and lift with as large a portion of the roots intact as possible. Cut the clump apart, leaving a mixture of old and new growth with each division. Trim foliage to 2 to 3 inches and plant the division at the same depth as previously growing. After planting, water and apply a layer of organic mulch.

Shred Those Leaves

Leaves are one of those gifts that just keep on giving, even when they've fallen, as they are an excellent source of organic material to enrich the garden. They are best utilized by the soil if they are shredded. Although an expensive chipper/shredder is nice, a lawn mower works just fine, too. Put the shredded leaves directly on the garden as a mulch, dig them into the soil, or add them to the compost pile. Adding the leaves to the garden in the fall saves time and effort next spring. Plus, they will have begun to decompose during the winter and will already be making the soil better by spring.

Plant More Bulbs

Depending upon the vagaries of the weather, you can usually continue to plant spring-flowering bulbs as well as garlic, shallots, and potato onions until late November or even early December. Once the ground freezes solid, it's time to quit.

Clean Window Boxes

Empty window boxes, adding the soil mixture to the compost pile. Wash and scrub the boxes with a brush and water. If empty window boxes seem sad and lonely to you, fill them with pine, hemlock, spruce, fir, and holly boughs. So decorated, the boxes will brighten your home's appearance during the upcoming holidays and beyond.

Take Notes

Use one of those rainy, cold fall days to catch up on your garden journaling while all your successes and failures are fresh in your mind. Draw sketches of areas that you'd like to change. If you've taken photos of the garden throughout the year, use them to create a garden scrapbook that provides a visual reference. Make lists of vegetable varieties that grew well, attracted pests, or other matters important to you. Make a notebook with pages printed off the Internet of plant descriptions.

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