Coastal and Tropical South

December, 2011
Regional Report

Reuse Trees and Greens

Please put your trees, garlands, and wreaths to good use after their indoor life is over. Roll sweet gum balls in peanut butter and then in bird seed, cut some citrus into chunky pieces, and attach them, along with that suet someone gave you as a gift, on these greens and hang them outside. Making a birdie buffet is a great activity for bored children waiting for school to start again. Many towns will grind up your tree for mulch and use it in public areas or let you pick it up for use in the garden. Do take off the tinsel, please.

Stop Yellow Parsley

Like many plants, parsley will use up any available nitrogen as it grows, even sacrificing the green of their lower leaves so the top can flourish. If the bottom leaves of curly or flat parsley plants turn yellow and the bed is not saturated with water, it probably some needs nitrogen. Use organic nitrogen such as cottonseed meal or the same complete formula you have used before. If lower leaf yellowing is a common occurrence, change your fertilizer practice to use your favorite product at half strength, twice as often.

Cut Down the Brown

As perennial plants stop growing and begin what passes for dormancy for a few weeks, your job is to groom them. Cut off dead or dying stems and clear around the base of each plant to make room for new mulch now and fertilizer in February. If you do not clean up around perennial plants, the debris will encourage insects to hide and offer places for cool weather fungi to thrive. If your perennials had insect problems this season, get their debris out of the garden. Otherwise, put the trimmings to work in the compost pile.

Prevent Transplant Shock

Newly planted or replanted shrubs can be overtaxed by too much top growth to support while new roots are getting established. It is a form of transplant shock that can be avoided by pruning at planting time, even if it breaks your heart to do it. Take about one third off the overall shrub's visible parts and use a root stimulator formula product at planting time. If you skip these important steps, new leaves are likely to fall off of the shrub and the plant will use up precious time to regenerate them instead of growing. Avoid transplanting into wet soil or on windy, very dry days.

Get Ants Out

When ants other than fire ants invade the greenhouse or gather under hoops seeking shelter, try an organic remedy first. Spread out a thin layer of diatomaceous earth all over the greenhouse floor and the soil under the hoop. Use it in pots, too, and work the product into the top of the soil in each one. It is also wise to drench the pots with a pyrethrin or insecticidal soap solution if the ant problem is serious. There is also a popular orange potion made from orange oil that repels ants, as do citrus peels scattered everywhere these pests are trying to set up shop.

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