Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Lower South

October, 2006
Regional Report

Dig Sweet Potatoes

When a frost or freeze is forecast, go ahead and harvest sweet potatoes. The tops of the roots are exposed to the air through cracks in the soil and can be damaged by the cold if left out in the garden. Store the roots in a warm, moist location for two to three weeks for "curing," and then move them to a cool, dry location for long-term storage.

Refrigerate Tulip and Hyacinth Bulbs

Purchase bulbs of tulips and hyacinths now while the selection is still good. Then store them in the lower part of the refrigerator for six to eight weeks. Don't leave bulbs in airtight plastic bags while in the refrigerator or store them with apples, which give off ethylene gas that can damage the bulbs. Plant these bulbs in mid to late December.

Fertilize Hollies

Holly plants with a heavy set of fruit often suffer from a deficiency of iron or other nutrients. Apply a complete fertilizer now to keep the foliage green and the plants healthy. This will also get them off to a good start next spring.

Avoid Overseeding the Lawn

Although a common practice in the south, overseeding a lawn with ryegrass is not recommended. The ryegrass competes with our warm-season grasses during winter and the spring transition period. Overseeded lawns often decline over time, thinning out and giving way to weed invasions. An overseeded lawn must also be mowed and watered during the cool season.

Protect Tender Transplants From Hungry Pests

Spraying plants with Bacillus thuringiensis is an effective, natural, low-toxicity way to prevent caterpillars from turning your broccoli, cabbage, and other veggies into "Swiss cheese." Cool-season greens are a favorite target of caterpillars, beetles, and aphids. Spread a lightweight row cover fabric over the row after planting, leaving extra slack in the cover to allow for plants to grow. Secure the edges with boards or soil and the plants will grow virtually pest-free right up until harvest.


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