Upper South

October, 2009
Regional Report

Give Amaryllis a Rest

Bring potted amaryllis plants indoors, cut off the leaves, and place the pots on their sides in a dark, cool, dry location, such as a basement or garage that doesn't freeze. Do not water. When new growth starts in several months, set the pot upright, start watering and feeding again, and bring it gradually into an area with bright, indirect light. The bulbs will produce spectacular flowers during the winter months.

Fertilize Rhubarb

Rhubarb will produce more stems than usual next spring if you work in composted manure around the plants in the fall. A shovelful per established plant is plenty. You can also out new plants now. Some of the best varieties, with stems that are red all the way through, are 'Canada Red', 'Chipman's Canada Red', 'Cherry Red', and 'Valentine'.

Harvest Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Acorn, butternut, spaghetti, hubbard, and other winter squash plus pumpkins are fast approaching harvest time. Harvest on a dry day, preferably before the first hard frost, using pruning shears to cut the squash or pumpkin with a 1- to 2-inch stem attached. For the longest storage, cure by letting the squash or pumpkins sit in the sun for a week, covering them on frosty nights. Store them on slatted shelves or in cartons in a dry room with a temperature in the 50s.

Use Those Leaves

Autumn leaves are not only beautiful but also an invaluable resource to gardeners. Recycle them in your own yard. The easiest way to utilize them is to vacuum them into them into the lawn mower bagger or run them through a shredder. These freshly shredded leaves are a perfect mulch anywhere in the garden, making, over time, what's called leaf mold. Shredded leaves may also be added to the compost pile.

Revel in the Beauty

Make sure you take time to savor the pleasures of fall. Enjoy the asters, mums, and sedums in bloom and the brilliant colors of the tree and shrub leaves. Include some young friends in a fall activity, such as going on a hike, visiting a botanical garden, getting pumpkins at a u-pick farm, creating an outdoor display of pumpkins, gourds, and a straw bale, or making some hot spiced apple cider on a chilly evening.

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