In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
April, 2006
Regional Report

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Enjoying roses is a natural way to celebrate National Garden Month.

How We Garden

America's favorite flower is the rose, the flower of passion and love. April is National Garden Month, time to make a pledge to "garden smarter" so we have more time to enjoy those roses ... and tomatoes, too.

What Mama Said
People get gardening advice from lots of places, but when we get stumped, we remember what a parent or grandparent said to do. Often that advice is still true, such as: "Prune your azaleas right after they bloom" or "A dull saw is more dangerous than a sharp one." Other things they said are outright lunacy: "Paint a white band 2 feet wide around tree trunks" for pest control of various sorts; or "Coat fresh cuts with pruning sealant." We just know better now, thanks to research, that these don't work, and may aggravate the situations they are meant to remedy.

Better Ideas
The ways we garden are changing all the time, and this month is a great time to make some garden resolutions. Investigate new technologies for insect control, particularly traps that will capture the first to arrive or hatch. The control strategies you can use early will prevent further damage and leave a lighter footprint in the garden habitat.

If you are still watering exclusively with above-ground sprinklers, check your water bill and consider drip tubes or soaker hoses. As we "regreen" so much of our regions after the storms of '05, look for places to introduce native plants to your landscape and public spaces, too. Replenishing the food plants and nesting places is essential to restoring wildlife in the regions.

Your Own Voice
From the first time you plant a tomato, or decide to rescue a sad houseplant from the office, simply paying attention to the plant reveals volumes. Watch it, and listen for your reaction. If your first thought is, "It looks droopy" or "That bug wasn't there yesterday," you know it's time to act. On the other hand, a good-looking plant is the garden equivalent of a pat on your back, for taking care of its needs. Celebrate National Garden Month with lots of those pats, and with some of your favorite garden-fresh foods and flowers, too.


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