Middle South

December, 2013
Regional Report

Grow Plants Under Lights

An indoor light garden will allow you to grow all sorts of indoor plants. You can rig one up yourself by suspending a fluorescent light over a waterproof tray. Or you can purchase light garden units that are attractive enough for the living room. If you ask nicely, maybe Santa will bring you one!

Clean Up Asparagus Beds

As an end-of-the-year ritual, clean up your asparagus bed. Cut down and rake up all withered foliage, pull out weeds and grasses, and mulch over the bed with a 2-inch layer of good compost. Add a mulch of clean straw, and your plants will be ready for another season of producing tender spears.

Prepare Tools for Winter

Now is a good time to clean and sharpen the blades on your hoes and spades, and to give all wood handles a rubdown with linseed oil. Run your mower until the gas is gone and then drain the oil. Sharpen pruners and loppers, too, and you'll be set for late-winter pruning.

Watch for Heaving

Because our soil freezes and thaws so often throughout winter, bedding plants set out in the fall tend to pop out of the ground and dry out. Check often for pansies, dianthus, and other flowers that have heaved out of place, and gently push them back down into the soil and water them in.

Tend to Houseplants

Rotate your windowsill houseplants a quarter turn each week or so, to give all branches equal exposure to precious winter light. Most houseplants prefer soil that is slightly moist -- never soggy, never dry. Keep plants away from hot and cold drafts, and check frequently for insects -- especially spider mites that thrive in the dry indoor environment.

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