Coastal and Tropical South

May, 2006
Regional Report

Growing Slips

Sweet potatoes are an oddball. Planted late in the spring, they grow more like pumpkins than irish potatoes, sending vines crawling everywhere to support their tubers. Sweet potatoes for propagation are called "slips," but they're just cuttings. Plant them in a sunny site in well-drained soil, and add a reservoir for water and fertilizer.

Check Depth of Mulch

When we mulch, we put it around everything to suppress weeds and moderate water conditions. But if you spread it more than 2 inches deep, it's counterproductive. Irrigation and rain water hit the mulch first, and if it is too deep, the water will be absorbed by the mulch before it reaches the soil.

Filling in Around Ground Covers

If you've planted ground cover, the wait for it to fill in can bring on weeds aplenty. Be sure to mulch around and between the ground cover plants, and reach right in and lay new runners on top of the mulch. Plant annuals in the spaces for cover and color while you wait.

Fertilize Squash

Zucchini, patty pan, and yellow crookneck squash are coming in just fine now, and plants need a boost of fertilizer to put on a second crop. Use your choice, but do it now. Water weekly with a soluble formula or fish emulsion, or sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetable garden fertilizer around each plant.

Tolerating Oak Blister

When spring is cool and moist as new oak leaves are unfurling, oak blister disease appears. Fortunately, it is not fatal, but the leaves look awful as they turn swollen and brown in places, and eventually develop powdery spores that dust the leaf surface. Rake up what falls, and don't worry about it.

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