Upper South

April, 2004
Regional Report

Tend Herbs

Prune lavenders and sage back to 4 to 6 inches to encourage new growth. Trim off dead growth from thymes and other woody herbs. Plant out cool-season herb transplants, such as parsley and chives. Seed of cilantro can be sown now outdoors. Start tender herbs like basil from seed; do not plant outdoors until all frost danger is past. Harvest and enjoy early-growing herbs like chervil, chives, and parsley.

Spray Fruit Trees

For best production, control sap-sucking insects, such as aphids and mealybugs, with horticultural oil when blossom buds start to show green.

Plant Rhubarb

Enjoy rhubarb's tart flavor for years by installing a planting now. Rhubarb is easy to grow. Plant roots in rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Three to five plants is enough for the average family. Space roots 3 feet apart and set them with the buds 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. Mulch and feed each spring with several shovelfuls of well-rotted manure. Begin harvesting the year after planting.

Plant Pansies and Violas

The desire to plant something blooming is readily satisfied by filling garden areas and planters with pansies and violas, which are widely available as blooming plants now. Both readily withstand cool spells in the month ahead before the last frost allows us to plant tender annuals. Experiment with different varieties and colors. Larger-flowered pansies are showier, but the smaller-flowered violas add definite charm to the garden.

Make More Dahlias

Think ahead to late summer and having a spectacular planting of those dinner-plate-size dahlia flowers. An easy way to have plenty of plants is to purchase the roots now, plant in a pot and grow indoors in bright light. When new shoots reach about 6 inches, cut them off near the base, dust the cut ends in rooting powder, and place them in moist potting soil. Cuttings will root in several weeks. Grow in 6-inch pots until frost danger has passed, then plant outdoors.

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