Coastal and Tropical South

January, 2007
Regional Report

Clear a Space

If you're planting a new vegetable garden or flowerbed, use a sharpened flat-head shovel (a.k.a. a spade) first. Scrape the surface plants off the site, digging in as little as possible. Removing the weeds and grasses now prevents their return as weeds in your tomatoes or zinnias later.

Beware Poisonous Plants

Everyone has questions about poisonous plants. Most southerners know from childhood that all parts of oleander and rosary pea are poisonous, as are lantana berries. Gardeners are more likely to have a reaction to sap, such as from pruning allamanda or even some philodendrons, so keep the gloves with the shears.

Plant Veggies in Southern Region

If you've never tasted a fresh beet, plant some and be amazed when you steam them. Likewise, try English peas, sugarsnaps, and snowpeas for tastes unlike any you can purchase. Finally, plant potatoes. While most will grow now, few are easy to find. Look for 'Red LaSoda', 'Kennebec', and 'Sebago' varieties.

Plant Cole Crops in Tropical Areas

In zone 10, January's not only time for potatoes, but also the last call for leaf and romaine lettuces and escarole. The cole crops must be planted now. Grow reliable cabbages like 'Copenhagen Market' and 'Chieftan'. 'Wong Bok' Chinese cabbage and 'Snowball' cauliflower are also recommended.

Try Different Palms

When searching for palms hardy throughout our region, don't stop at palmettos, although they are an excellent evergreen shrubby palm. Needle palm is also trunkless, yet carries strong frond form on a plant 5 feet tall. Washington (or Mexican Fan) palm can reach 100 feet at a relatively fast rate.

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