Upper South

March, 2007
Regional Report

Keep Up With Weeding

Weeds grow year round, good weather or bad. Don't let them get too far ahead of you this spring. The corn gluten products that inhibit seed germination help to diminish weeds in flower and shrub beds. Sprinkle the product on after weeding, then apply an organic mulch, such as compost or hardwood bark, both of which will decompose and enrich the soil. Horticultural-strength vinegar is gaining popularity as an herbicide to use on weeds already growing. Another option is to consider which weeds might be worth keeping, either as a nutritious addition to meals or as a ground cover.

Consider Annual Vines

As you plan this year's garden, be sure to consider adding some annual vines, whether trailing along fences, over arbors, or up trellises, for the color, texture, and dimension they add to the garden. Morning glories top almost everyone's list, but don't forget about moonflower, cypress vine, cardinal vine, cup-and-saucer vine, black-eyed Susan vine, sweet peas, climbing nasturtium, and others. When planting morning glories, remember to nick the hard coat of each seed with a file to hasten germination.

Plant Early Vegetables

With the weather seeming more and more unpredictable, knowing what to plant, when, can be a challenge, even to the most experienced gardener. One method for choosing when to plant spring vegetables is to observe when noonday temperatures average 45 degrees F. At that point, sow spinach, parsnips, carrots, beets, lettuce, radishes, turnips, and chard; then repeat in two weeks. The cole crops, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, can also be transplanted now.

Be Prepared for the Worst

With spring temperatures already ranging from below freezing up to the mid-80s, there's bound to be some garden problems. These extremes can wreak havoc on fruit crops, especially peaches and apricots, but any part of the garden may show the effects, especially perennials, trees and shrubs, and roses. Most plants have the capability to survive, but if you want to help them out, keep old sheets, boxes, or anything that might work as a cover available for those frosty nights.

Start Dahlia Tubers

Although there are shorter varieties, it is the 4-foot-tall dahlias with dinner-plate-size flowers that are such fun to grow for their spectacular effect in the garden. Start them indoors now by placing the tubers in a damp peat-sand mixture and let buds form. If desired, cut the clump of tubers into pieces before starting, with each piece getting at least one bud and one tuber. Once several sets of leaves form, pot up into a high-quality potting soil and when the weather is frost-free, plant into the garden.

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