Nov. 2013 To-Do List: Middle South

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Mums CenterpieceEven though Thanksgiving is on the horizon, we can still expect mild, sunny days and good growing conditions in our region throughout the month. While October usually brings the first frost of the season, we may have a couple more weeks before a killing freeze arrives. Potted mums that you enjoy as a centerpiece for your table can be moved outside for a little sunshine during the day. Meanwhile, pansies, violas, snapdragons, ornamental kales and cabbages, and ornamental grasses keep the show going in the garden.

  • “Cut and come again” harvesting means you snip only as many leafy greens as you need from your fall crops of collards, mustard, kale, and turnips, leaving the plants to keep producing. Other fall crops, like leeks, broccoli, and cauliflower, will be ready to pick soon.
  • We hope you’re following our series on stretch gardening, and that you’ve dried and preserved some flowers and foliage from your yard to turn into holiday gifts and decor. If you haven’t, no worries. You can substitute commercially dried or silk flowers. Look through our projects now, and start soon to get a jump on the season.
  • Plant seeds of sage, basil, and other herbs for an indoor herb garden. Keep it near a sunny window, and use snips of the herbs to whip up dips and other recipes.
  • Prepare a bed and plant strawberries. Place sheets of newspaper over the bed and wet them down. Cut slits in the paper and insert the crowns so that the leaves are above the paper. Cover with soil and mulch well to protect from freezing weather.
  • Sow a green manure to keep winter weeds from moving into bare spots in your garden. You’ll add nutrients to the soil later, when you till the crop under.
  • Cut the stems and foliage of perennials to about two inches high before digging, dividing, and moving them.
  • Plant new or rooted cuttings of Shasta daises, coreopsis, Sweet William, and rudbeckia.
  • When you plant spring flowering bulbs, mix bone meal or fertilizer into the soil around them. Don’t just drop fertilizer into the beds or holes; it can burn the bulbs if it touches them.
  • Dig up and store dahlias and caladiums in peat for the winter.
  • Sow seeds of hardy annuals, including larkspur, cornflowers, calendula, and spider flower (Cleome).
  • Plant evergreens, such as magnolias and hemlocks, and deciduous trees and shrubs. Keep them at the same level they were planted in their containers, and water in thoroughly. Mulch out to the drip line and keep them watered, if rainfall is scarce, for the first few weeks.
  • Fertilize fescue lawns and irrigate newly laid sod with an inch of water per week, unless rain provides.
  • Have you tested your lawn and garden soil yet for amendments you may need? Spring crops often benefit from lime applied at this time of year.
  • ┬áPot up amaryllis bulbs for holiday flowers, or top last year’s bulb with an inch of fresh potting soil, and start watering. Buds usually set in 4 to 6 weeks.

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