Upper South

January, 2010
Regional Report

Check Stored Bulbs and Produce

Periodically this winter be sure to check stored onions, garlic, potatoes, winter squash, and other food items as well as stored tender flower bulbs like gladiolas, dahlias, and tuberous begonias. Some of these items will rot, shrivel or lose excess moisture. Remove and discard any of this damaged material. If you're losing a great deal of these items, then it's important to figure out the reason. Perhaps the area is either too warm or too cool. Or, maybe the items weren't cured enough.

Prevent Bark Splitting

Young and thin-barked trees, especially fruit and maple trees, are susceptible to the effects of warm, sunny days and freezing nights, which causes the bark to split. If severe, this will kill as tree. To prevent this happening, wrap tree trunks with either a paper or plastic wrap sold specifically for this purpose or paint trunks with white latex (not oil-base) paint. If you don't want to paint the entire trunk, then just paint the south- and southwest-facing sides.

Care for Plants During Storms

Winter storms can wreak havoc on our gardens. The weight of heavy snowfalls can break branches or topple plants entirely over, especially with deciduous and needled evergreens. The best care is to go out periodically while the snow is still falling and gently shake the snow off. With ice storms, leave plants alone because attempting to remove it can damage plants.

Test Leftover Seed

If you saved seed from last year's garden, test it for germination this winter. That way you'll know whether to buy new seed and won't waste time and effort planting seed that won't sprout. To test, place ten seeds between moistened paper towels. Keep seeds warm and moist. If less than six seeds germinate after a week, then fresh seed should be purchased.

Dust Houseplants

Dust that accumulates on houseplant leaves is not only unattractive but it also inhibits the exchange of air and moisture in the plant. To clean the smooth-leaved plants with large leaves, wipe the leaves with a soapy sponge, then rinse with clear water. For plants with lots of small, smooth leaves, rinse them the shower attachment on the kitchen faucet or actually place them in the shower, using lukewarm water. For textured- or fuzzy-leaved plants, brush off the dust with a small paint brush.

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