Middle South

December, 2010
Regional Report

Hasten Compost

When starting new compost piles this fall, jump-start the decomposition process by adding several large scoops of finished compost from an old pile. The hungry microbes in the old compost will feast on the new plant material, getting the ball rolling more quickly.

Continue Planting

Where the soil doesn't freeze, you can continue to plant container grown and balled-and-burlapped trees and shrubs. You can also take stem cuttings of evergreens such as holly, juniper, camellia and boxwood this month. It's not the time to fertilize, though. Save that chore until the weather begins to warm again.

Update Your Garden Journal

When time allows, make a careful evaluation of the landscape and note findings in your garden journal. Were pests or diseases problematic during the growing season? Do plants need to be divided, moved, or pruned? Then use upcoming winter days to do a bit of research and make plans to renew the garden in the coming year.

Protect Arms

You can give new purpose to mateless or holey, old socks by removing the foot and recycling the upper portion for use as arm protectors. Store the sock tops with your garden gloves and slip them on your arms after you've put your gloves on. They'll keep dirt out of your gloves and off shirt sleeves, as well as protect tender skin from thorns and other snags.

Grow Vegetable Tops

Feeling as gray as the outdoors? Then sprout some vegetable tops to cheer you through winter's dreary days. Simply save the tops of carrots, beets, turnips or parsnips, and set them in a shallow dish of water near a window, and in a few days you'll have perky tufts of green to lift your spirits.

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