Upper South

October, 2011
Regional Report

Make Fall Cleanup A Priority

Take advantage of good-weather days this fall to cut back perennials to several inches above the soil level. This way you'll have fewer chores in the spring when they start growing. Of course, you can spare those that have winter value, such as the ornamental grasses and rudbeckias, especially since the latter have seeds that the birds enjoy.

Close Down the Summer Vegetable Garden

Pull out all dead and dying vegetables as well as the weeds. Add the debris to the compost pile unless there were diseases present, in which case debris should be put in the garbage. Rake and shred fall leaves and spread a layer several inches thick over the vegetable garden area. Or you can combine shredded leaves with compost or dehydrated cow manure, then till it into the soil now or in the spring.

Manage Your Mums

With occasional light frosts, the blooming period of mums can be extended by throwing old sheets over them on those frosty nights. If you have been growing certain mums in your garden for several years then you know that they are hardy. Mums that have been purchased this fall may or may not be hardy, unless designated as such. Many of these can be successfully kept from year to year by overwintering in a cold frame. Another option is to mulch them heavily to lessen the cycles of freezing and thawing we often experience in our region.

Clean Out Containers

Remove frost-killed annuals from container plantings and add to the compost pile. Often, the potting soil can be salvaged once the root systems are removed and if there were no soil-borne pests. Store containers in a dry place, such as a basement or garage. This is especially important for ones that can break, like terracotta. Next spring, pour the used potting soil into a tub and incorporate fertilizer and worm castings, then use it again. After several years, you'll need to start with new potting soil as it begins to break down.

Utilize Pumpkin Seeds

If you prefer your pumpkin seeds already shelled, you can still use the pumpkin seeds from Halloween jack-o-lanterns and pie making. Scoop them out of the pumpkin, wash, and remove the stringy pulp. Spread them on a tray or plate and allow them to dry. Then put them out for the birds. Seeds from winter squash can be utilized in the same way. Cardinals, especially, savor this treat.

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