Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Coastal and Tropical South

January, 2008
Regional Report

Give the Tree to the Birds

Now that you're done with the Christmas tree, it's for the birds. Remove ornaments and tinsel, take it outside, and cut some branches into pointy wood tips. Stick orange segments and grapes onto the points, add a garland of popcorn, and set up your camera to catch the partying birds.

Keep Compost Pile Aerated

Even if torrential rain swamps the compost pile, turning with a pitchfork soon airs it out. Wet weather proves the value of a two-bin compost system. By turning a pile into the next space, then back a week later, you'll stimulate healthy decomposition and reduce smelly anaerobic conditions.

Plant Cool-Loving Flower Seeds Now

Nasturtium and sweet pea flowers thrive in cool weather. Soak the seeds for a few hours in warm water, then plant in peat pots filled with potting soil or peat pellets. Both can be easily transplanted without root damage. Water from the bottom whenever possible.

Promote Better Grapes

Pruning grapevines in January promotes more and sweeter muscadines and other grapes. Cut back any vines that have sprawled or invaded the next vine's space in an orchard planting. Thin out all but the best canes, then trim their side shoots to a 2-inch-long T-shape.

Caring for Bare-Root Plants

Lots of unusual and/or inexpensive plants are sold bare root. They are dug from the field and shipped without soil, saving the soil for the next crop and reducing shipping costs. Take yours out of boxes or bags right away and soak the entire plant in water overnight. Prune roots and tops lightly before planting.


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