Mid-Atlantic

December, 2011
Regional Report

Move Pine Needles to Acid-Loving Plants

While you're raking, gather fallen pine needles and toss them under acid-loving shrubs, trees, and perennials. Shrubs and trees include blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons, hollies, white birch, magnolia, camellias, raspberries, and hydrangeas (the ones you want to have blue flowers). Perennials include creeping phlox, trillium, lily-of-the-valley, turtlehead, prickly pear, Japanese iris,and Jack-in-the-pulpit.

Rake Dead Leaves from under Hydrangea

Dead, mushy hydrangea leaves can harbor fungus and scales. Rake them up and put them in disposable paper bags for your community's yard debris program that uses high-temperature composting.

Stop Planting Perennials

This fall and early winter's excessive rain has left the soil very wet. Horticulture professionals are concerned the soil won't dry out completely before freezing. That excess moisture could kill perennial roots and crowns. So even though it's unusually warm, wait until spring to plant perennials.

Make Seed Collecting a Family Affair

Gather annual and perennial seeds to save and store over winter. It's fine to put seed heads in paper bags to dry out. Here's a practical botany lesson for you and the kids to do while watching TV or hanging out together. Pull the dried seed heads apart into individual seeds. Of course, put the individual seed types into paper bags to finish drying, then in sealed containers to keep out moisture for longer storage. Store in a cool, dry place.

Clean Out and Bring in the Worm Bin

If you haven't already brought in your red wigglers, now's the time. They won't survive freezing. My bin's full of castings from summer worm feasting. I'm pulling on the latex gloves and separating the wrigglers from their poop. The wigglers will go in a smaller box with new shredded paper, straw, leaves, and veggie bits. Castings will fertilize my containerized shrubs and roses.

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