Middle South

September, 2012
Regional Report

Make Plans for the Addition of Trees and Shrubs

Autumn is the best time to plant trees and shrubs, so take time to make plans. For example, if I decide to remove the decrepit Kurume azaleas in my garden, I will want to replace them with a later-blooming hybrid that is less likely to be damaged by frost. Before I shop, I need to do a bit of research to determine worthy alternatives.

Plant Fall Crops

Sow lettuce, mustard, kale, and other leafy greens in the fall garden. Kale, though less traditional for our area than some of the other greens, is easy to grow in the Middle South. One of the best varieties is 'Lacinato', an Italian heirloom also known as 'Dinosaur', which features deeply crinkled, blue-green leaves and has a nutty flavor.

Repot Houseplants

Make a quick check of houseplants that have summered outside to see if they have become root bound. Repotting now will give the plants time to grow new roots before they are moved indoors for the winter.

Dry Hot Peppers with a Simple Ristra

To make a simple ristra to dry hot peppers, use fishing line rather than the traditional method of braiding along a length of twine. Thread the line through the pepper stems, tying off the first pepper so it will support those above it. To reconstitute a pepper for use after it has dried, rinse it of dust and then immerse it for 10 minutes in simmering water that has been removed from the heat.

Make Oven-Dried Tomatoes

You can dry paste-type tomatoes, such as the popular 'San Marzano', by cutting them in half, removing the seeds, and placing the halves on cake racks set on baking sheets. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and bake at 150 degrees F for 8 hours or more. Store dried tomatoes in air-tight freezer bags in a cool, dark place or in the freezer.

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