Mid-Atlantic

September, 2000
Regional Report

Plant a Cover Crop


As you clean out sections of the vegetable or annual garden this fall, consider planting a fall cover crop. These crops are grown in fall to protect the soil through the winter and then get tilled under. Annual rye grass, for instance, is a cinch to plant and grows quickly to help protect and hold the soil in place over the winter. It may even die in winter, making spring tilling still easier.

Stop Pruning

It\'s time to put away your pruners. Pruning trees, shrubs, and evergreens stimulates growth, and tender new growth does not withstand winter cold very well. Stop pruning now to allow plenty of time for all new twigs and branches to harden sufficiently to withstand the winds and cold weather of winter. Of course, you can remove dead or diseased branches anytime.

Keep Bulbs Cool

Spring flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils shouldn\'t be planted until the soil temperature cools down to about 60F. If you buy your bulbs early, keep them cool (between 60F and 65F), dry, and well ventilated until it\'s time to plant. Do not store them in closed plastic bags, where moisture will accumulate; mesh or paper bags work much better.

Start Coloring Poinsettias

Time to start \"coloring up\" those poinsettias. Bring the plants indoors to a sunny window when nights cool to near 55F. Beginning the last week in September, provide 15 to 16 continuous hours of total darkness every night (cover them with a cardboard box or set them in a closet) along with 60F to 65F temperatures. Bring them back into the bright light each day. Keep up this procedure until the bracts start turning color - usually within 8 to 11 weeks.

Make Some Potpourri

This is your last chance to harvest blooms for potpourri. Save late but colorful annuals such as marigolds, zinnias, violas, and blue salvia for making beautiful potpourris this fall. Although the blooms of these plants are not fragrant, the petals add wonderful color and needed bulk to potpourri blends. Loosen the petals and dry them flat on screens in a dark, airy place. Onced dry, add essential oils and a fixative for fragrance.

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