Upper South

March, 2007
Regional Report

Take Advantage of a Break in the Weather

The season of "hurry-up-and-wait" is upon us since so much of gardening is weather-oriented at this time of year. For instance, in between periods of rain, there may be only a day or two when the soil has dried out enough to plant an early bed of lettuce. Make plans to work in the garden on a given day, and it may end up snowing. So any nice, mild day, try to get outdoors at least a bit to enjoy the early daffodils and other bulbs, as well as get a few chores done.

Start Warm-Weather Vegetables

If you haven't already begun planting seeds indoors for transplanting later, then now is the time to get going. On average, our region is about six to eight weeks out from the last frost, depending, of course, on the vagaries of weather and microclimates. Warm-weather crops like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant should be planted in order to have good-sized growth by the last frost, when they can be planted into the garden. If you grow transplants of larger-seed crops, like squash or cucumbers, wait another couple of weeks.

Fertilize Bulbs

There is some disagreement as to whether to fertilize spring-flowering bulbs when they're planted in the fall, but bulbs should definitely be fertilized now as growth appears. For this spring feeding use a fertilizer that contains a slightly higher percentage of phosphorus than nitrogen or potassium, such as 10-12-10.

Weeds Beware!

Weeds know no season, and it pays to look at various ways to keep them in check. Increasingly, there are newer ways to control weeds without dangerous chemicals. Corn gluten is an effective pre-emergent herbicide. Especially strong formulations of vinegar and herbicidal soap are other possibilities for killing weeds. Flame-weeding is a technique that is getting a lot of press lately. To learn more about this technique, read the article on flame weeding provided by the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides at: http://www.pesticide.org/pubs/alts/pdf/flameweeding.pdf.

Try Something New

This is the time of year to be thinking about what you want to add or eliminate from the garden. If an area isn't "working," get rid of it and try something else. Or, if you've been thinking about creating a butterfly and hummingbird garden or a rain garden or whatever for several years, take the leap and at least make a start on it. If we wait until the time is "right," and everything is "perfect," we'll likely miss our chance.

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