Middle South

November, 2011
Regional Report

Make a Compost Sifter

A compost sifter comes in handy when you want to use your homemade amendment where cleanliness counts, such as in containers. To make your own sifter, use 1 x 6-inch board to construct a frame that fits the top of your wheelbarrow, and then staple hardware cloth within the perimeter of the box. To make sifting easy, attach U-shaped drawer pulls at either end.

Identify Garden's Warm and Cold Spots

Though it travels unseen, cool air moves around the garden and travels down slopes to make frost pockets. To track where air currents flow in your landscape, walk the garden on a cool, windless morning with a helium balloon in hand and observe which way it moves. Then, confirm you suspicions with two or more thermometers along the route, taking readings several times a day.

Wait Before Using Some Vegetables

A rush to the table is not always best, especially where cool season vegetables are concerned. It's well known that frost brings out the full character of many brassicas, such as collards and kales, but a light frost can also enhance some root crops, like carrots and parsnips. Hold off on winter squash too, as they'll have more flavor when they've had time to cure.

Harmonize Clashing Colors

Many gardeners believe that white flowers can bring harmony to a bed of jarring hues, but white is too bold for the job. Instead, plant gray-leaved plants, such as dusty miller or lamb's ears. They look particularly good with jeweled-colored winter annuals like pansies and violas.

Hasten Stump Decay

Stumps will rot with time, but you can hurry the process with a few simple steps. First, use a drill to make a number of deep holes in the stump, and then sprinkle the holes with nitrogen-rich fertilizer to encourage fungi. Water occasionally and your stump will be gone in half the time.

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