Upper South

January, 2012
Regional Report

Plan for a Vegetable Variety Comparison

Maybe your favorite, tried-and-true vegetables varieties that you grow year in and year out will remain so, but you might also be surprised if you were to compare flavor and growth traits with some new-to-you varieties. As you plan the food garden each year, pick at least one kind of vegetable to trial varieties you haven't grown before. Pick four to six different varieties as well as your old favorites. Plant short rows of the trial varieties if space is limited.

Keep Amaryllis Growing

When the flowers on your holiday amaryllis have finally faded, remove the spent flowers by cutting the stalk at the base near where the leaves emerge from the bulb. If the plant has not been in a brightly lit location, move it to where it will receive plenty of light. Water and fertilize it regularly, as you want the bulb to begin developing next year's flowers. If possible, plan on setting the potted bulb outdoors for the summer.

Join a Plant Society or Botanical Garden

Looking for other people who share your passion for gardening in general or for a specific plant? Join a botanical garden or plant society that has a local chapter. Not sure what is available? Ask at a local garden center or do an online search. Besides getting to meet other garden enthusiasts, groups often have plant sales and swaps, plant shows, garden tours, and publications.

Inspect for Frost Heaving

Winter in our region often means that weather fluctuates wildly between freezing and mild temperatures. This weather pattern frequently leads to plants, especially perennials, being pushed out of the ground, a process called heaving. Take advantage of those warm days to walk around the garden, checking for plants sitting higher than normal in the soil. Use your hands to push them back in, then add some mulch to help stabilize soil temperatures and prevent more heaving.

Make a Terrarium

If you're longing to get your hands into soil during the winter, try making a terrarium. Choose a clean glass container that is watertight, such as an aquarium, fish bowl, or gallon glass jar. Put about an inch of pea gravel in the bottom, then a half-inch layer of activated charcoal, followed by 2 inches of moistened potting mix. Finally, add plants, preferably choosing small, slow-growing tropical houseplants. Cover the container with a piece of clear glass or plastic.

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