Middle South

May, 2004
Regional Report

Mulch Potatoes

One of the secrets of growing plump, flawless potatoes is plenty of mulch. A 3-inch-deep blanket of straw or hay piled snug around the stems keeps soil cool and moist, and protects shallow tubers from exposure to sunlight.

Plant Beans

Pole beans make great use of limited space, and their flavor is divine. Install a trellis or other support before you plant the seeds 1 inch deep. Bush beans are easy and fast, too, and I like to plant them just inside the edge of raised beds. Kept picked, they produce lovely beans for more than a month.

Weed and Mulch

I like to wear medical exam gloves to pull weeds that try to crowd out flowers and vegetables I sow from seed. After a heavy rain, I weed for a day or two, then mow the lawn and use the extra grass clippings to mulch the open spaces that have been cleaned of weeds.

Harvest Salad Greens

Get up early if you must to gather lettuce first thing in the morning. Salad greens picked shortly after sunrise are crisper and sweeter than leaves taken from the same plants later in the day. When spinach begins to grow tall, pull the plants and freeze the excess greens.

Move Mums

This is the ideal time to dig and move chrysanthemums, asters, and other late-blooming perennials. Even if your mums don\'t need to be moved, pinch back the stem tips to help plants grow stocky and full.

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