Upper South

January, 2012
Regional Report

Watch for Pests on Houseplants

Insect pests on houseplants can appear seemingly out of nowhere and spread faster than seems possible. It pays to make a quick check of houseplants every time you water, with a more thorough check every couple of weeks. Look on the undersides of leaves and along stems. Control methods depend to a great extent on the number and type of plants. Sometimes simply washing plants works. Insecticidal soaps are the next line of defense. For a full-scale battle, look for an organic-certified spray that combines insecticidal soap, neem, and pyrethrins.

Set Up Lights for Starting Seeds

Growing your own vegetable garden transplants is very satisfying aspect of gardening but not if the seedlings are weak and spindly. Even with south-facing windows, the light intensity in late winter may not be enough. The solution is fluorescent or LED lights. These may be a simple shop light fixture or a unit designed for the purpose. Choose daylight or cool white tubes and leave them on for 12 to 14 hours a day with the tubes no more than 4 inches above the tops of the seedlings. This last requirement means that the light unit should be easy to raise or lower.

Make A Garden Photo Album

Hopefully, you've downloaded photos of your garden to your computer. Maybe you've put them on a handheld device or Flickr, but sometimes there's something to be said for old-school ways. Try making a garden photo album this winter. Organize it by season, by different areas, or various viewpoints, whichever way you'll enjoy the most. Then, take the time to look at it slowly, taking pride in what you accomplished. As you plan this year's garden, a photo album is also a great tool in helping you appreciate what you enjoyed most, as well as what needs to be improved.

Enjoy A Green Smoothie

If we're truly eating with the seasons, getting enough green vegetables during the winter may seem challenging. One of the easiest ways to get several extra helpings of greens each day is by preparing and drinking a green smoothie. There are no hard-and-fast rules of what ingredients to include, but during winter, it makes sense for kale to be the main ingredient. After that, consider including fresh parsley, spinach, or celery as well as some fruit, like banana, apple, pear, or berries. Add plain Greek yogurt, if desired. Finally, include a liquid, such as water, herb tea, or dairy or non-dairy milk. Put everything in a blender until thoroughly combined.

Plan for Berries

Berries of all types are on just about everybody's super foods list. They may be expensive to buy, but, fortunately, most are easy to grow. Even a small space will yield more than you might imagine. Everbearing raspberries and strawberries planted this spring will produce a crop by this fall. For spring-bearing strawberries and raspberries as well as blackberries, you'll have to wait until next year for your first harvest. Blueberries, gooseberries, and currants, as well as other less well-known berries, usually require several years before plants bear fruit.

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