Upper South

September, 2009
Regional Report

Bring Herbs Indoors

Having fresh herbs available year-round is a good cook's dream. Growing herbs indoors isn't the easiest thing to do, but certainly not impossible. Bright light and cool room temperatures are imperative. If your home doesn't have adequate natural light, plan on getting a fluorescent light unit. Herbs that grew outdoors in pots are a cinch to bring in. Moving herbs that grew outdoors in the ground to pots is also an option, but success is not guaranteed. Another option is to buy young herb plants for indoor growing or start them from seed now. Basil, cilantro, and parsley are the most popular herbs for using fresh in cooking and are easily started from seed.

Dig Up Gladiolus and Dahlias

Overwintering gladiolus in our area is a hit-or-miss proposition, so it's best to dig them up and store in a cool but frost-free garage or cellar. Ditto for dahlias. After digging the corms or tubers, dry them on screens for a day or two, then gently remove any soil. Check for damaged or diseased ones and destroy. To stave off disease problems, lightly dust with garden sulfur. Store in paper or mesh bags. And be sure to label!

Stockpile Straw

Weather forecasters have been mentioning that this winter may be colder than normal. Hopefully, you'll get your garden well-protected this fall, but it's always good to have back-up. Invest in some extra bales of straw to stockpile for winter mulching. If you don't have a building to store them in, then cover with an inexpensive tarp. The straw doesn't have to be dry, but it's a lot easier to work with when it is. For azaleas, rhododendrons, and hollies, get some baled pine needles.

Get Houseplants Ready to Come Indoors

Houseplants need to be brought indoors before the first frost. Inspect them for signs of insects. To be on the safe side, treat all of them with a houseplant spray, such as insecticidal soap. Because the lower light conditions of fall and winter mean less active growth, many gardeners wait until spring to re-pot houseplants into fresh soil, but if some plants are severely root bound, don't hesitate to give them fresh soil and a bigger pot now. Provide the best light possible indoors, and water and fertilize regularly.

Take Cuttings or Pot Annuals

Many annuals, such as coleus, wax begonias, impatiens, and fuchsia, can be propagated from cuttings for flowers indoors this winter. Although they'll have stronger root systems if rooted in perlite and vermiculite mixture, they'll also root in water. Another option is to dig up an entire plant, then washing off most of the garden soil before planting in a houseplant potting mix. Basil is an herb that can be grown indoors this way, too. Parsley doesn't dig up well because of its taproot, so purchase small plants to grow indoors this winter.

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