Coastal and Tropical South

February, 2007
Regional Report

Preventing Damping Off

The most common problem with newly sprouted seedlings may be their sudden collapse. The fungus that causes damping off is favored by preventable conditions. When you start seeds indoors, use clean pots, sterile seed mix, and fresh seed. Water from below to avoid overwatering, and thin crowded seedlings immediately.

Trick Fence Climbers

Even a 4-foot fence is easily scaled by raccoons seeking persimmons or tomatoes. But top any fence with a 2-foot section of chicken wire, then secure 1 foot and let the upper foot of wire sway. Climbing mammals will climb, but the wire will swing backwards and dump them out.

Make Beds Wider for More Planting Space

In one 4- by 10-foot bed, you can have two long rows for veggies in single file and a walkway between. Or build a bed 3+ feet wide, plant in patches or diamond patterns, and access the bed from each side. Wider bed, more planting space.

Remove Soggy Foliage and Mulch

Recent heavy rainfall from Texas to Alabama means soggy soil now and greater chances of fungus diseases later. In between the storms, get out to the perennial bed and cut or gently pull the dead leaves off. If mulch is soaked, rake it out, throw it in the compost, and replace it.

Have a Good Reason to Prune

Prune for these reasons: to maintain or change shape, to direct plant growth (as in training to a trellis or column), to promote flowering in shrubs and fruit trees, to remove dead or diseased limbs and branches, and to clear paths or create scenic views. If it doesn't need it, don't prune.

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