Mid-Atlantic

February, 2008
Regional Report

Stop Tree Seedlings

Germinating weed tree seedlings can be a problem, especially in spring. By summer, they're time consuming to pull. For preventive control, apply a preemergent product that keeps seeds from germinating. Corn gluten is a nontoxic control though I don't know its effectiveness. Traditional preemergent herbicide sprinkled on the soil stops sprouting mulberry, maple, Oriental bittersweet, and tree-of-heaven seeds. Preemergent is best applied when soil temperature is cool yet warming -- late February to mid-March -- before seeds sprout. Only apply a preemergent control product where you want ALL seeds in that area to be inhibited from sprouting.

Dispose of Toxic Products Safely

Toxic products like motor oil, pesticides, paints, paint products, and herbicides DO NOT belong in our water. Not our stormwater or storm drains, not poured on our soil, not down our household drains. Dispose of these chemicals through your local household hazardous waste collection program.

Record Spring's Firsts

Tracking plant and animal cycles isn't the same-old, same-old. With global climate change, nature's patterns are in flux. As a family activity or solo, record your spring observations of birds, mammals, insects, amphibians, reptiles, trees and shrubs, other plants, fungi, etc., on the Public Phenology Database at: http://www.sws-wis.com/lifecycles/dbase.html. Thanks to NGA's Middle South Regional Editor, Suzanne DeJohn, for planting this seed.

Pot Up Tender Bulbs

What's your area's average last frost date? May 1 or Mothers' Day, May 11? Start begonia tubers about eight weeks before expected last frost. Plant dahlias and elephant's ears and calla lily rhizomes indoors six to eight weeks before last frost, and caladium tubers four to six weeks before last frost. For NOAA map with spring frost dates, go to: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/climate/freezefrost/Spring32F_lowres.jpg.

Start Cool-Weather Flowers and Veggies Indoors

Cool-weather calendula, a.k.a. pot marigold, can be started from seeds indoors now. Ditto for the slow-germinating celery and the bulb-forming onion. Celery germinates best at 60 to 70 degrees F; transplant when seedlings are 3 to 5 inches, before the taproot forms. Onion bulb growth depends on day length: the short, dark period makes the onion shape. Long-day onions produce a good-sized bulb in northern states; short-day varieties are better for southern states with longer summer nights.

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