Mid-Atlantic

March, 2007
Regional Report

Tidy and Fertilize Container Perennials and Shrubs

Give weary-looking perennials and shrubs in hayracks, whisky barrels, and large pots some TLC and a boost of liquid kelp. They may look winter-worn, with brown-edged leaves or crispy needles, yet they may be alive. Clip away dead foliage and stems. Shake or pull off dead, brown needles. Water well and feed. Look for signs of greening up in the next few weeks.

Register Your School as a Healthy Zone

Enrollment is free, open until April 20, and the benefits are many in the Keystone Healthy Zone (KHZ) Schools Campaign. This annual program recognizes and rewards schools for making a commitment to improve nutrition and physical activity. KHZ is part of the Pennsylvania Advocates for Nutrition and Activity (PANA), a statewide organization/coalition of more than 500 public, private, academic, professional, and volunteer groups promoting policies and environments that support healthy eating and activity. KHZ schools receive resources, templates, trainings, technical assistance, and mini-grant funding to make healthy changes and meet the federal requirements for school wellness policies. See http://www.panaonline.org/ for details.

Prune and Fertilize Roses

This spring's not following the rules -- plant growth-wise or weather-wise. Roses still need pruning and fertilizing, though, to help stir them from winter's chill. Rule of thumb is to prune when the forsythia blooms (or in late February). Top-dress with aged manure, mushroom soil, alfalfa meal, and a mineral-based, slow-release fertilizer. For roses varieties that tend to get black spot or insect infestations, apply a synthetic fertilizer with systemic insecticide/fungicide.

Start Veggie and Annual Seeds Indoors

Sow seeds indoors now for early crops of lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and for tithonia, strawflowers, and tall snapdragons for the cutting garden. A sprinkle of milled sphagnum moss on top will reduce damping off -- a fungal disease that causes tender stems to rot at soil level. Watering once weekly with a light dilution of kelp will make seedlings stronger and healthier.

Remove Leaves from Shrub's Base

Where shrubs meet soil is a catch-all; leaves, stems, candy wrappers, and soda cans all accumulate in the low branches. Remove all the debris including leaves. Otherwise scale and fungus can set up housekeeping on the leaves and then spread to infest your shrubs.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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