Middle South

November, 2009
Regional Report

Plant Garlic

When I plant spring bulbs in the garden, I know it's time to plant garlic, too. Planted too early, garlic will begin to grow and be killed by cold weather. By planting late, the roots grow through the winter, but leaves don't emerge until spring. Garlic likes rich, well-drained soil. Plant cloves 3 inches deep and 6 inches apart. If flowers appear in spring, snip them off, so energy is directed toward the bulbs. Dig in early summer, when foliage begins to turn brown.

Build a Wildlife Condo

If you are a wildlife-friendly gardener who is not alarmed by things that hop, wiggle, and slither, you can make a condo in a shady, out of the way area, that will provide winter homes for frogs, lizards, and salamanders. Lay a parallel row of small logs (about 3 inches wide) on the ground a couple of inches apart, then add mulched leaves or organic yard debris between the logs. Add more layers of logs and leaves, with each layer perpendicular to the last, until you have four or more sturdy layers. For obvious reasons, keep poisons and baits away from this nurturing habitat.

Plant 'Harry Lauder's Walking Stick'

The most interesting winter plants are those that shed their leaves to reveal sculptural trunks and branches. For the ultimate gnarled and twisted form, add a Harry Lauder's walking stick (Corylus avellana 'Contorta') to the garden. This large shrub, growing to about 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide, finds the hot and dry conditions of summer a bit harsh, so if possible choose a location with some protection from the afternoon sun and provide regular moisture.

Prune Out Non-Variegated Foliage

Occasionally, variegated evergreens will revert to the original, more vigorous, green variety. While cleaning the garden in fall, take a few extra minutes to inspect variegated plants and remove any and all branches with green foliage.

Keep Sand at the Ready

This morning's frost reminded me that winter cold and the possibility of icy walkways is just around the corner. Skip the rock salt when de-icing, however, as the salt filters into the soil, injures roots, and kills plants. Instead, stash a bag of sand near problem areas with a recycled plastic container, cut into a scoop, to add a sprinkling of grit for traction.

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