Northern & Central Midwest

May, 2005
Regional Report

Keep That Bulb Foliage

Braiding the foliage of daffodils may look interesting, but it actually reduces the amount of light the leaves receive. Besides, it takes a lot of time! Instead, plant perennials or annuals that will grow up and hide the foliage while it finishes its task of feeding the bulb.

Provide Water for Migrating Birds

It's time for the May migrating birds to come: tanagers, orioles, buntings, and warblers. They are attracted to the sound of water droplets, so provide some sort of water motion in your birdbaths. There are several options on the market, or just prop a narrow hose to drip gently into a ground level bath.

Make Cut Flowers Last a Long Time

When bringing flowers, such as lilacs and crab apple, indoors for the table, cut the stems in early morning when they are only half-opened. Cut them again when you put them in the vase, and use sharp pruners to make a slit along the woody stem to increase water uptake.

Watch for Iris Borers

Small, water-soaked spots and streaks are signs of iris borer larvae feeding. Find the larvae and squish them to avoid later problems. Iris borers feed on the foliage and then burrow into the tuber where they transmit bacterial soft rot, destroying the tuber.

Thin Those Baby Seedlings

Don't be afraid to thin your vegetables -- they'll love you for it. Carrots, lettuce, beets, swiss chard, radishes, and all other spring vegetables that have small seeds need to be thinned to allow full growth. Use the thinnings in salads, or transplant to other areas if you can't stand discarding the tiny plants.

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