Lower South

March, 2005
Regional Report

Getting a Head Start

Cucumbers, cantaloupes, watermelons, and squash are usually direct seeded into the garden. For a head-start on the season, you can sow them indoors a couple of weeks ahead of their normal outdoor planting dates. Just don't let them stay too long in the confines of a seedling container or they will be stunted and not perform as well.

Get Rid of Weed Seeds

Those cool-season lawn and garden weeds are loaded with developing seeds now. Pull them up to prevent them from dropping those seeds and you'll reduce future weed problems in your lawn and garden. Either discard the weeds or compost them in a well-constructed compost pile that heats up enough to destroy the seeds.

Protecting Fruit Blooms

When a late frost threatens your fruit trees, your best hope is to cover the plants and provide heat beneath the cover. Place a large sheet of plastic over the tree, large enough for it to drape to the ground on all sides. Secure the edges with soil, rocks, or bricks. Then place a couple of heat lamps beneath the cover shining down toward the ground but not touching the tree trunk or branches.

Don't Worry About Evergreens Dropping Leaves

While evergreen plants maintain foliage throughout the year, individual leaves don't live forever. Some plants, such as live oaks and southern magnolias, have a pretty significant drop of foliage in spring with the onset of new growth. Don't let this alarm you. It is part of the natural cycle on these plants.

Choose Container-Grown Over Bare-Root Plants

Now that winter is over, it's too late for best results with bare-root plants. Even though some garden centers will offer late specials on these plants, it's best to choose container-grown plants so your new green investments have the best chance of surviving the warm weather to come.

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