Middle South

February, 2007
Regional Report

Plant a Salad Garden

Sow lettuce, radishes, spinach, and mesclun now for a nice harvest by late spring. Using a raised bed will prevent saturated soil from late-winter rains. Place some small stakes around the perimeter and throughout the planting so you can drape a blanket over it on very cold nights.

Clean Up Rose Beds

Cleanliness can help minimize disease and insect problems on roses, so take time to rake up fallen leaves and old mulch, prune away broken or diseased stems, and pull weeds. Hybrid tea roses can be shaped now; use a light hand on climbers and shrub roses, which bloom best on one-year-old wood.

Prune Back Buddleia

Left to their own devices, buddleia (butterfly bush) will grow large and rangy and produce sparse flowers. Although it may seem drastic, a hard spring pruning is the best thing you can do to promote abundant flowering. Prune plants back to 12 to 14 inches from the ground, using a pruning saw if necessary to make clean cuts on woody stems.

Prune Tree Fruits

Once the coldest winter weather is behind us, it's time to start pruning fruit trees, including apple, nectarine, peach, and plum. Consult a pruning handbook for specific information on pruning each type of tree, since pruning techniques for optimum production vary among fruits.

Make a Cold Frame

Create a warm haven for seedlings and protect them from snow, cold rains, and wind by buying or building a cold frame. The easiest way to build one is to place straw bales around the perimeter of a square and cover the opening with old window frames. Be prepared to prop open the windows on warm, sunny days. Once the weather warms up, you can use the straw as mulch.

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