Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Upper South

October, 2011
Regional Report

Begin Planting Spring-Flowering Bulbs

The earliest-blooming of the spring-flowering bulbs, such as snowdrops, dwarf iris, and snow crocus can be planted now. The main-season bulbs, those that bloom from late March through April, are best planted from mid-October until mid-November. We have until Thanksgiving to plant the late-blooming tulips.

Harvest Tomatoes

Gather the last of the ripe tomatoes. If there is an abundance, preserve them by canning or freezing. Tomatoes can also be frozen. When thawed, they are similar in texture to canned tomatoes. With tomatoes that are still green, consider making green tomato pickles or relish. To speed the ripening process for partially ripened ones, place them in a paper bag with an apple. The ethylene gas that a ripe apple produces hastens the tomato ripening process.

Dig and Store Tender Bulbs

As frost approaches, dig tender bulbs, tubers, corms, and rhizomes, such as those of dahlias, gladiolus, begonias, and cannas. Gently remove most of the soil, then spread out on screens for a week in a dry, well-ventilated place. After they've dried, cut off the foliage. Store in mesh bags, preferably hanging, in a dark, frost-free spot.

Have Protective Coverings Ready

Usually, in our region, there is a cold snap in early October, followed by several weeks of mild weather. The garden life of many flowers, herbs, and vegetables can be extended during these chilly evenings by protecting them with a simple covering at night. Old sheets and blankets are the cheapest and easiest solution. Keep these handy at this time of year to throw over plants at a moment's notice.

Enjoy Fall Harvest

It isn't just the summer garden that produces an abundance of food. The fall garden yields a wide variety of vegetables and fruits that are wonderful to enjoy now or store for eating during the winter. The list includes all manner of greens, radishes, turnips, beets, winter squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, and pears. Harvest from your own garden or visit a farmer's market to stock up for the months ahead.


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