November 2010
How's Your Garden?

How's Your Garden?

Water Evergreen Plants

Be sure plants are watered before the first hard freeze, especially evergreens. It will reduce stress on the leaves. Later this winter, if we get a serious cold spell causing the ground to freeze, plants with reserve water are less likely to be scorched by winter winds. Also, be sure to water camellias as they begin their season of bloom. Drought stress can cause the buds to drop and you won’t see any blooms.

 

Unseasonable heat in early fall has caused some lettuce plants to bolt early.

Did Your Lettuce Bolt Early?

The unseasonal heat in September and October caused a lot of lettuce transplants to go right into their seeding stage, grow tall and produce somewhat bitter leaves. If this happened to your lettuce, you can try planting again and covering the plants with a cold frame or row cover to keep them growing as the weather gets cooler. You may also cut the tall plants off a couple of nodes above the soil and see if they sprout a few decent quality leaves in the cooler weather.

Aphids and Cabbageworms Are Still Around

Watch for aphids and cabbageworms on your broccoli and cabbage. Now is a bad time for your crops, which are probably reaching harvest size, to be attacked. Warm, fall weather extended the length of time these pests hung around your plants laying eggs, so the caterpillars may still be quite active. Check the heads and outer leaves looking for holes from their chewing. At first the holes are tiny; then they get larger as the caterpillars grow and chew off more. Check broccoli carefully because the pests can get down into the florets. To kill caterpillars that are present and prevent farther damage, spray or dust the plants with Dipel.

Fertilize Bulbs When Planting

When planting bulbs, be sure to work bulb booster fertilizer into the ground. This helps the bulbs develop good roots and also provides nitrogen as the foliage starts to peep through the ground in late-winter to early-spring.

Winter Weeds

Do you have to clean out flowerbeds of annoying weeds early each spring? There are a number of annual weeds sprouting each winter and early-spring you can prevent with an application of Preen, which contains the pre-emergent herbicide, Treflan. Now is a good time to sprinkle a little Preen in your flowerbeds and cover with mulch to prevent a lot of work later.

   

Growing spinach in containers is convenient for winter access.

 

Try Spinach in Pots

Spinach is another very good green for winter as it is one of the most cold-hardy. Growing spinach in containers near your kitchen door keeps leaves at-hand for easy picking. One of the challenges of spinach is keeping the leaves clean as they pick up lots of splashing soil. It stays cleaner in containers.

Fertilize Winter Greens

Collards and kale will put on a lot of new leaves during the mild days of November. As the ground cools, it will take longer for granular fertilizer to become available, so use a liquid fertilizer instead to promote fast growth.

 

Pansies are similar to violas, but violas may have some advantages. (photo credit: ALFA fall)

Viola or Pansy?

What is the difference between violas and pansies? Both are for sale side-by-side in stores now, but they are not exactly the same, even though they look alike. Violas have grown in popularity lately because they are small, mounding plants whose blooms are less likely to flop in a stretch of warm weather. They last a little longer into the spring than pansies, too. The flowers and plants are smaller, which also makes them a little neater for pots, but they don’t cover the ground as generously in mass for ground cover. If you fertilize pansies and violas well at planting, they will do a lot better. Also, remember to water during dry weather.

Use old spray paint to add color to dried stems in your garden.

 

Painted Stems

This is a fun idea from a gardener who likes to add a little color to the dried stems of late-summer and fall. She just got some old spray paint cans from the garage and used up the extra paint to add color to the dried stems in the garden. It’s a good way to discard of leftover paint and add a conversation piece to your garden.

Lois Trigg Chaplin is author of The Southern Garderner’s Book of Lists and former Garden Editor of Southern Living Magazine.