Upper South

September, 2011
Regional Report

Dry Herbs

Although fresh herbs almost always have the best flavor, a supply of dried herbs is much better than none at all. Harvest herbs in the morning after the dew has dried. If necessary, gently wash and dry. To dry, hang small bunches upside down in a dark, dry place. Alternatively, use a dehydrator or an oven at the lowest possible setting. Microwaving is possible, but because of varying amounts of moisture in the plants, you'll have to experiment. Gently crush the fully dried leaves and store in glass bottles in a dark place.

Get Houseplants Ready to Move Indoors

If you moved your houseplants outdoors this summer to give them extra light and air circulation, it's now time to think about getting them ready to move back indoors. Ideally, you would move them to a shadier location outdoors to help them adjust to lower light. Most important is to check plants for insects and diseases and treat them as needed, as it is much easier to do this outdoors than in. To get the house ready, clean windows to give plants the brightest light possible. Finally, make sure all plant saucers are water-tight.

Practice Chainsaw Safety

Safely using chainsaws isn't just for autumn, but this is the time of year that many gardeners are cleaning up areas. When using a chain saw, remember to keep both hands solidly on the handles and your eyes on what you are cutting; keep the saw only on the right side of your body and below the height of your head; cut only with the lower edge of the saw blade; don't try to force the saw; and don't wear yourself out, as accidents are more likely to happen when you're tired.

Store Winter Squash

Winter squash is a great source of vitamin A and phytonutrients. If you've grown your own, wait until the squashes are fully mature before picking. Look for a hard stem and rind. Use a sharp knife to cut them from the stem, keeping a 2-inch piece of stem attached. Cure them in a warm place for a week, then dip each squash in a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach to kill surface bacteria. Let dry and store in a single layer in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area at 45 to 60 degrees F. Didn't grow any this year? Then be sure to visit a farmer's market for your winter's supply.

Think About the Birds

Hummingbirds will be migrating soon, so be sure to send them off with the feeders cleaned and filled with a sugar solution of 4 parts water to 1 part granulated sugar. Check out suppliers of bird seed, suet, and feeders to see if they have any "early bird" sales. The best choices for feeding wild birds include black oil sunflower seeds, white millet, and nyger. Be sure to get suet, too. Thoroughly scrub all bird feeders with a soap-and-water solution, dip in a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach, then rinse well with water. Dry thoroughly before filling and hanging.

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