Mid-Atlantic

September, 2000
Regional Report

Making Leaf Compost

Autumn\'s leaf drop is a prime time to collect and save plenty of organic materials for the compost pile. You can temporarily store the leaves in a cage of wire mesh or an attractive four-sided corral using picket fence sections. Mix the leaves with fresh grass clippings, soil, or some other high-nitrogen source of organic material. Mix well, water, cover, and let it cook.

Fall Perennial Care

Stop planting and transplanting perennials about 8 weeks before freezing weather is expected. This gives plants time to become rooted and established before being subjected to the freezing and thawing soil of winter. Apply several inches of organic mulch such as bark chips over the root area (do not cover the crown) to help prevent frost heaving and make sure the soil is kept slightly moist until it freezes.

Water Trees and Shrubs


Because roots will continue to grow in the cool soil of fall, newly planted trees and shrubs should be watered deeply to keep the soil slightly moist until the ground freezes. Mulch is also suggested to help moderate swings in soil temperature, conserve moisture, and cut down on weeds.

Fall Vegetable Garden Care

Vegetable growth is slowing as the days shorten. This \"fall factor\" can add 10 to 14 days to the harvest of vegetables planted this summer. Remove any flowers and fruits of melons, winter squash, pumpkins, eggplants, and tomatoes that are too small to ripen before frost. This will help the remaining vegetables mature faster.

Better Bulb Planting

When preparing the soil and digging holes for bulbs, remember to loosen and prepare the soil down beneath the bulb. Dig generously -- loose soil below the bulb will provide a better growing environment for the bulb\'s roots. A bulb more firmly established and rooted in the fall will grow better next spring.


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