Dec. 2013 To-Do List: Middle South

Home Depot

Poinsettias from The Home DepotEnjoy a beautiful poinsettia this holiday season. When it’s not decorating a holiday table, give this tropical native a sunny window with an indoor temperature between 60 and 70 degrees R. Avoid letting your plant be exposed to hot or cold drafts, and don’t fertilize while it’s in bloom. One of the biggest mistakes we make with poinsettias (and most houseplants) is overwatering. After you water, remove any decorative wrapping and let the excess water drain away. Dump the water out of any saucer you’re using underneath. With a little care, these beauties will last for a long time in your home.

  • Harvest arugula, beets, bok choy, carrots, cabbage, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and turnips from your late season garden.
  • Are borers a problem in your area? Treat tree trunks with a paste of wood ash mixed with water.
  • Keep planting sweet peas as long as the weather is good. Roses can continue to go into the ground, too.
  • If you see chewed bark at the base of young trees, you may have hungry mice or other wildlife around. Pull back mulch that’s piled close to the trunk and remove any vegetation, leaving a few inches of space around the tree. This helps eliminate hiding places. If the problem is bad, use wire screen to make mouse-guards several inches high. Bury the screen a couple of inches under the soil.
  • Cut boughs of evergreens to bring inside for fragrant decorations. Add red berries from hollies and nandinas for accents.
  • Propagate cuttings from woody plants by dipping the ends in rooting hormone. Stick the cuttings in a box filled with sand and leave it outdoors in a sheltered spot. If necessary, add white plastic or floating row cover for protection. Keep the sand moist. It may take several months for the cuttings to grow big enough to transplant.
  • Keep planting Bermuda sod, watering regularly throughout the winter if rain is lacking.
  • Leave onions in the ground; they can survive the winter. Turnips, cabbages, collards, and other kohl crops can survive down to 10 degrees F.
  • Harvest broccoli as the heads develop. Harvest leafy greens with the “cut and come again” method, leaving the plants in the ground to produce more new leaves.
  • Tie bouquets of herbs or dried flowers with pretty ribbons to give as hostess gifts at parties.
  • Store sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes and other root crops in boxes filled with sand. Keep the boxes away from the light and in a cool spot.
  • It can be tricky to grow fresh herbs indoors, because our homes are usually too dark and dry for them. If your plants start to decline, sow fresh seeds every few weeks, and replace the older, dying plants. Keep the herbs in a sunny window but don’t let them touch the glass.
  • Check stored produce for signs of spoilage. If you see a problem, discard the affected fruits or vegetables before everything is ruined.
  • Make sure garden chemicals are safely out of reach of children and pets, and in a location that stays above freezing during the winter. Even organics can be toxic, so handle all products with care.
  • Plant woody vines like Carolina Jessamine, American wiseteria, and cross vine now. Use sturdy supports or grow them on an arbor, securing them with twine or plant ties. Avoid planting invasives like Chinese wisteria.
  • Rake remaining leaves into piles and shred them with a mulching blade on your lawn mower. Rake them back around trees or into beds as mulch.
  • Turn compost before it freezes and spread it over garden beds. Start a new compost pile.
  • Drain the gas from your lawnmower and other gas-powered equipment, or run until the tanks are empty. Store your mower and tools so water won’t get in the tank when we have rain or snow.
  • Sketch out plans for your spring garden. Consider adding hardscapes and building structures like walks, decks, or walls during the cold season.
  • If you haven’t done so yet, take an inventory of seeds and seed starting supplies you’ll need for spring.
  • Keep cyclamens and forced paperwhites in a cool location to prolong their blooms.

 

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