Upper South

May, 2007
Regional Report

Continue Planting Summer Bulbs

There's still plenty of time to plant and enjoy tender summer bulbs, such as gladiolus, cannas, caladiums, elephant's ears, tuberose, tuberous begonias, and others. By planting gladiolus every two to four weeks, you can have a continuous supply of flowers to cut for bouquets. Most of these bulbs grow best in full sun or light shade, but caladium, elephant's ears, and tuberous begonias need shade.

Give the Lawn a Boost

Fertilize the lawn with a slow-release, low-phosphorus fertilizer. Set mower at 3 inches and keep the blade sharp. If possible, use a mulching mower that returns clippings to the lawn. This nourishes the turf and relieves the clipping-removal hassle.

Prune and Fertilize Rhododendrons and Azaleas

Rhododendrons and azaleas will have the best shape and flowering if the faded flower trusses are pruned or snapped off when flowering ends. Be careful, however, as next year's buds are right below. Feed the plants with a fertilizer made for acid-loving plants. Weed around the plants, then mulch with pine needles or oak leaves. Rhododendrons and azaleas have shallow roots and need soil that is kept evenly moist.

Weed, Fertilize, Mulch

This is the gardener's mantra -- always on the top of the task list. Keep all beds and borders weeded, catching weeds while they're young. Fertilize regularly, then top off with a layer of organic mulch, preferably compost or hardwood bark. Consider using corn gluten meal as a safe pre-emergent herbicide. Never put fresh mulch on top of last year's without first loosening the surface; otherwise an impervious layer can develop.

Harvest and Plant

Continue harvesting and enjoying lettuce and other greens, radishes, peas, turnips, cilantro, cabbage, broccoli, and other cool-season crops. As these wind down, remove and compost them, fertilize, and replant with a fast-growing summer crop, such as bush beans. There's still plenty of time to get main-season crops planted. To avoid potato beetles, wait until early July to plant.

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