Middle South

January, 2011
Regional Report

Shop Online

Put another feather in your eco-friendly gardener's cap by removing your name from tree-eating catalog mailing lists and shopping online. For a slew of information, from shopping tips to caring for plants once they arrive, visit the Mailorder Gardening Association online at www.mailordergardening.com.

Save Seed-Starting Supplies

In the Middle South, many seeds can be started by the middle of February, so start saving items that might prove useful. For example, seeds can be started in egg cartons or deli containers, while plastic cups can be cut into strips for plant tags.

Make a Propagation Bed

Frame a small raised bed in an area that gets morning sun and afternoon shade and fill it with a half-and-half mix of peat moss and sand. The bed can be used for a variety of purposes in addition to rooting new cuttings. It's a great place to nurture newly divided perennials, to hold plants that are yet to find a home, and to harden off indoor-grown seedlings.

Use Vermiculite Products With Caution

In past years the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released warnings that some vermiculite products are contaminated with asbestos, a fibrous mineral that is a potential cause of respiratory ailments and lung cancer. If you use a potting mix made with vermiculite, take care to avoid inhaling the product by staying upwind, keeping the mix moist, and wearing a dust mask.

Employ Newspaper as Your Compost Receptacle

Make composting easier and tidier by ditching the countertop slop receptacle, as attractive as it might be, and employing newspaper to do the job instead. Just spread a few sheets on the counter whenever you're emptying coffee grounds, peeling fruit, or cleaning vegetables, then crumple up the newspaper and toss it in the outdoor compost bin.

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