Middle South

January, 2001
Regional Report

Pull Winter Weeds

Chickweed and other cool-season weeds appear out of nowhere during spells of mild weather. Pull them up and throw them on your compost heap before they go to seed or turn them under if your vegetable garden has become carpeted with green. Hand-pull any weeds near plants.

Sow Sweet Peas


Sweet pea seedlings are tremendously winter hardy, but mature plants stop blooming if it gets too hot. In our climate, the solution is to sow super-hardy varieties such as 'Winter Elegance' now so you'll have plenty of sweet pea bouquets in May.

Force Branches


You can hurry up spring a little bit indoors by forcing branches of flowering shrubs and trees to bloom. My favorites are apples and peaches, but any woody stems with big fat buds will do. Select branches when you prune the trees and cut them into one-foot lengths. Split the cut ends of the branches to help them take up water.

Turn Compost


Through the coldest part of winter I throw stuff into my compost, where it freezes on the spot, but that's not a great way to compost. When thaws last for several days, chop and turn compost to get it cooking, mixing in weathered leaves in the process. Warming temperatures will help jump-start the pile to turn it into black gold.

Prune Fruit Trees


Now is the time to get outside and start pruning your trees. Using a pruning saw, cut out branches that cross and suckers that grow near the base of your trees. Sculpt the tree into an open or upright shape, depending on the cultivar. When you're finished, spray trees with dormant oil to kill any overwintering insects.

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