Oct. 2013 To-Do List: Lower South

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dried herbsWith the intense summer heat finally behind us, we can tackle a second growing season here in our Lower South gardens. 

This is a fine time to plant herbs, divide perennials, sow many types of seeds, and transplant trees and shrubs. The cooler temperatures encourage roots to develop, and plants that become established now will have a head start on those set out next spring.

  • Plant minty-smelling rosemary this month. Choose potted plants that bloom around the winter holidays, or set out transplants in well-drained garden soil that gets full sun to part shade.
  • Start a wildflower patch or a small meadow with a wildflower seed mix blended especially for this region. For a meadow effect, lower the blade on your lawn mower and “scalp” the area you want to plant. Rake away the grass clippings and any debris. Then sow the seeds and water them in to make good contact with the soil.
  • Most herbs do fine through our mild winters. If you don’t have room in the garden, tuck them into other available spaces, like window boxes or pots on a patio.  Dry herbs on stackable racks to save for seasoning recipes.
  •  As the days become shorter, cut back on watering and fertilizing houseplants.
  • Watch for the blooms of butterfly ginger. These perennials have a perfume reminiscent of gardenias and need light mulch for winter protection.
  • Toss a handful of bulb fertilizer into each hole you dig for bulbs, mixing it with the soil. Mix organic matter or compost into holes you dig for plants, too. Otherwise, roots tend to grow into the amended soil, rather than spreading out.
  • Sow sweet peas now, planting the seeds 1/2 “ deep. Work plenty of good quality compost into the ground and keep the emerging seedlings watered if rainfall is scarce.
  • Mix tiny poppy seeds with sand when you sow them, so you can see where they land. Many poppies do well in the Lower South, including California, Shirley, Iceland, and corn poppies.
  • Plant cool season crops like lettuce, carrots, cabbage, kale, mustard, spinach, turnips, onions, chard, kohlrabi, and broccoli.
  • Strawberries can go into the garden this month. Some Lower South gardeners treat them as annuals, composting the plants after they stop producing in spring; foliage diseases arrive with summer temperatures.
  • Top dress St. Augustine grass with compost or peat moss. Both help feed the grass as they decompose.
  • Harvest persimmons when they turn orange. They’ll continue to ripen indoors, safely away from hungry wildlife. When the fruits are ripe, press them in a potato ricer. Discard the skins and seeds, and freeze the pulp. It will darken, but stay flavorful.
  • Dig and divide daylilies, yarrow, Shasta daises, and other overcrowded perennials. Wait till winter to dig and replant matted clumps of cannas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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