Upper South

December, 2008
Regional Report

Check Winter-Stored Produce

Take a few moments to check stored garden produce, such as winter squash, onions, and potatoes to be sure that none are rotting. If that is occurring, remove and discard those so that the damage does not spread. Be sure to bring some of the good potatoes and onions into the kitchen and make a warming potato soup to take the chill off the day.

Apply Winter Mulches

Now that the ground has frozen, winter mulch can be applied. Waiting until the ground freezes lessens damage from mice and other creatures seeking a warm spot and some tasty roots and leaves. The best winter mulches include salt marsh hay, oak leaves, pine needles, and evergreen boughs. Apply several inches around plants. For less hardy roses, form a mound 12 inches or so deep around plants. Protect strawberries with a 3-inch layer of straw.

Stock Up on Sand or Kitty Litter

Avoid using salt on icy paths and driveways as it can destroy nearby lawns, trees, shrubs, and flowers through drought stress, as the salt hinders the intake of water by roots. Instead, use sand or kitty litter to give a better tread on the ice. Or, if you want to melt the ice, use calcium chloride as it is less damaging than regular salt.

Protect Evergreens

During any warm spells, when the ground is not frozen and if there is no rain, give broad-leaved evergreens a thorough soaking. Protect the leaves from drying out in windy areas by applying an anti-dessicant spray. If a heavy snowfall occurs, gently shake the snow off evergreen limbs, but do not attempt any rescue efforts in the event of an ice storm as branches will be very brittle and easily broken.

Go Stand Under the Stars

Turn off the Christmas lights, bundle up in your warmest coat and hat, go outside and soak up the beauty of the stars and absorb the stillness and infinity of the universe. Then head inside, have a warming beverage, and have a peaceful sleep.

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