Oct. 2013 To-Do List: Upper South

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Planting lettuce in a raised bed.As the weather continues to cool down, we can start planting and transplanting trees and shrubs. it’s important to keep them watered deeply and thoroughly, if rainfall is scarce, until their roots become well established. Houseplants that spent the summer outdoors need to come inside before the first frost. Help them acclimate to the drier air and reduced light in your home by first moving them to a porch or other shady spot for a couple of weeks. Watch for pests that hide under leaves. Washing the leaves with a solution of 1 or 2 teaspoons of mild dish detergent per gallon of water can help remove aphids, thrips, and whiteflies.

  • Before adding amendments to your garden, use a soil test kit, or ask your local extension service if they’ll test a soil sample for you, and tell them what you want to grow. Adding lime or gypsum now gives these amendments time to blend with the native soil before you plant in spring.
  • Stagger plantings of spring-blooming bulbs for a longer flower show next year.
  • Plant perennials with bulbs, to help hide bulb foliage as it fades next spring.
  • Sow cool season crops: beets, broccoli, boy choy, Brussel sprouts, carrots, cabbage, chard, collards, endive, kale, leeks, lettuce, spinach, radishes and turnips.
  • Use a cold frame to stretch your growing season. Row covers can extend your harvest of cold-tender plants like lettuce.
  • Remember that some greens, such as collards and turnips, taste sweeter after they’re touched by frost.
  • Dig and divide overcrowded perennials. Prune tall perennials to the ground.
  • Sow seeds of poppies and nasturtiums.
  • Some varieties of rosemary varieties can overwinter outdoors. Others need to be potted up and brought in. Since rosemary needs excellent drainage, use a cactus potting mix or add extra perlite to a soilless mix. Keep the plants in a cool, bright spot where the temperature doesn’t exceed 62 degrees F.
  • Plant trees and shrubs to provide food or shelter for wildlife. Birds will feast on the fruits of dogwoods, mountain ash, cotoneasters, and winterberries. Oaks, hickories, chestnuts, buckeyes, and walnuts also provide food and nesting habitat.
  • Rent a de-thatching machine to remove a build-up of undecayed plant materials on your lawn. Thatch keeps air, water, and nutrients from reaching the roots of your grass. You may also need to core aerate your grass. Leave the plugs on the lawn, and the weather will eventually break them down. Mowing over them will also help.
  • Shred fallen leaves on your lawn with a mulching blade on your mower. Leave them to decompose, unless they form thick mats that could smother the grass.
  • Cure newly dug potatoes for a week or two in a dark spot where the temperate ranges from 55 to 60 degrees F. They will store longer at 40 degrees F. in a dark, well-ventilated spot with moderate to high humidity.
  • Re-seed your lawn now. Grass seed germinates nicely in cool weather, and annual weeds will offer less competition.

 

 

 

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