Coastal and Tropical South

October, 2010
Regional Report

Cabbageworms

Little caterpillars can ruin your harvest when they attack the leaves of any cole crop such as mustard and turnip greens, cabbage and broccoli, collards and kohlrabi. Look for them as you walk the garden daily; stomp and squish as you go. If you see them, their black droppings or green egg sacks on the backs of leaves, spray now with Bt (Bacillus thuriengensis, sold as Dipel or Thuricide) and repeat in 2 weeks.

Daffodil days

For beginning gardeners and all who cherish simplicity, daffodils are ideal. Planted in fall, they put on a show in February. Even in the warmest winters, a few daffs in a container by the door makes a cheery addition. Whether you're adding to the stand, or starting a new bed of daffodils, it's time to plant those bulbs with many names. It doesn't matter if your selection is called daffodil, jonquil, narcissus, or paperwhite, most will perennialize to some degree in most of our regions. Plant 3-4 inches deep in well-drained soil in partly sunny or full sun beds.

How to groom

Plant advice often urges you to "groom the plants." That means to keep them neat, and it definitely helps prevent pests as well as improve their looks. Scissors or small shears with long, narrow blades work best for this task. Trim off broken or browned leaves and spent flowers, shape the overall plant, and remove debris regularly. Now's a good time for it, especially if you are moving plants inside or repotting them.

Strawberry beds

Work up a garden space now to prepare for strawberry planting by adding organic matter if the area has been cultivated all year. Work in organic matter, either the bed's own decomposing mulch or compost. The terms "June-bearing" and "ever-bearing" are misnomers in our regions. We plant in fall, harvest in spring, and grow strawberries like any other annual vegetable, such as broccoli, that prefers our cooler winter temperatures. Straw mulch is traditional, but many gardeners prefer black plastic for its soil-warming properties.

Camellia care

In a dry year, our favorite winter flowers can be few and small. Soak both newly planted and established camellias and sasanquas deeply once a week to be sure flowers will open properly. If scale insects have shown themselves with raised brown bumps on stems, use an oil spray to begin their control. Read labels carefully and use only when temperature conditions are safely in range. Spray before flowers open or after they are done to prevent discoloration.

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