Coastal and Tropical South

February, 2008
Regional Report

Investing in Asparagus Futures

To help asparagus plants produce a good crop of spring spears, cut down ferns, whether brown or still green. Weed the bed, if needed, to make room for the green tips soon to emerge. Dress the bed with an inch of well-sifted compost, and water if needed.

Tend Tea Roses

After pruning established tea roses to leave three strong canes about 18 inches tall, get them ready to grow. Clean around the base of each plant very well and apply a compost blanket topped by 1 inch of fresh mulch. Spray the canes with horticultural oil or a lime-sulphur solution.

Plant Potatoes and Corn

Once soil can be worked without it sticking to your shovel, plant seed potatoes in a raised bed. 'Red LaSoda' may be the favorite variety for new potatoes, but try 'Blue Caribe' for unexpected color. To feed four, plant corn seeds in a traditional block of 4 rows, 10 feet long.

Prep Planting Beds

The time to prepare soil for a new garden bed is a few weeks before planting. That allows organic matter and elemental fertilizers like cottonseed meal to "mellow" or begin to blend. It is the combination of native soil and amendments plus water and time that builds good soil structure.

Refresh Mulch Around Shrubs

Shrub beds baking in full sun benefit from mulch to keep roots cool. If you use weed barrier cloth, examine it to see if it needs replacing or patching. Most important, put a layer of organic mulch -- ground bark or pinestraw -- over the cloth to keep it cool.

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