Mid-Atlantic

April, 2005
Regional Report

Rejuvenate Houseplants

Houseplants respond to the longer days of spring just as outdoor plants do -- they kick into growth. Pinch or trim back leggy specimens to encourage branching, repot those that have outgrown their quarters (use a slightly larger pot, or trim and root prune and replant in the same size pot). Return to routine fertilizing if you haven't already.

Spice Things Up

Spice up your life and savor the garden with all your senses by planting some herbs either in the garden or in containers where you can enjoy them up close. Culinary herbs, such as basil, parsley, chives, and thyme, are easy to grow. Rosemary, lavender, and many tender herbs, such as lemon grass and pineapple sage, are also rewarding.

Cold Tomatoes

Tomato plants love warm weather, thrive in rich, warm soil kept evenly moist, and require full sun. Planting tomato transplants in the garden too early can be a false start. They may become shocked or stunted due to frosty nights, raw windy days, and cold soil. Plant them when you are certain all danger of frost is past and the soil has warmed.

Check Soil Temperature

Soil temperature can be as important as the ambient temperature for starting seeds and getting strong root growth on transplants. Plants that do well in cool soil include peas, greens, and cole crops. Delay planting those that require warm soil, such as tomatoes, peppers, melons, and okra, until well after the last frost.

Condition Seedlings

Seedlings and small transplants grown indoors need to be conditioned or acclimated for about two weeks prior to planting them in the garden. You can use an unheated cold frame or a sheltered porch to start the process. Gradually expose them to longer periods of direct sun each day, but protect them from frosts, extreme wind, and hail.

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