Upper South

February, 2008
Regional Report

Plant Sweet Peas

The ethereal fragrance of sweet peas is one of the glories of the garden. The plants thrive in the cooler weather of spring and early summer. Plant any time now when the soil dries out a bit. Dig a trench 2 inches deep and cover the seeds with 1/2 inch of soil. Fill in the trench gradually as the plants grow. Mulch around the plants to keep the soil evenly moist. When the plants are several inches tall, pinch out the growing tips, leaving only two pairs of leaves to encourage the formation of side shoots. Provide some kind of support if growing the vining type, and keep flowers picked regularly to prolong the blooming period.

Test Soil's pH

The ethereal fragrance of sweet peas is one of the glories of the garden. The plants thrive in the cooler weather of spring and early summer. Plant any time now when the soil dries out a bit. Dig a trench 2 inches deep and cover the seeds with 1/2 inch of soil. Fill in the trench gradually as the plants grow. Mulch around the plants to keep the soil evenly moist. When the plants are several inches tall, pinch out the growing tips, leaving only two pairs of leaves to encourage the formation of side shoots. Provide some kind of support if growing the vining type and keep flowers picked regularly to prolong the blooming period.

Prune Berries

For summer-bearing raspberries and blackberries, remove canes that fruited last year, cutting them off at ground level. For fall- or everbearing varieties, you can either remove just last year's fruiting canes, which will give you both a summer and fall crop, or remove all canes, which will give just a fall crop. The upside to the latter technique is that it's easier and gives a lot of fruit all at once. For blueberries, currants, and gooseberries, cut the oldest wood away along with any damaged branches.

Sow Delphinium Seeds

Plant delphinium seeds indoors now to have strong plants that will flower toward the end of summer, just as cool autumn weather is approaching. In subsequent years, the plants will bloom from early to midsummer. When seeding delphiniums, keep the soil evenly moist and provide as much bright light as possible. One of the best varieties of delphiniums to try in our region is the %Magic Fountain% series in shades of violet, lilac, lavender, rose, cream, and blue; plants grow about 2 feet tall with 12-inch flower spikes.

Control Spider Mites

As winter drags on, houseplants become more susceptible to pests, especially spider mites. Barely discernible to the eye, the evidence of spider mites is most often apparent in the yellowing or dotted leaves with very fine webs on the undersides. To help your houseplants survive, spray-wash them once a week, being sure to get the undersides of the leaves. Keep the humidity as high as possible around houseplants to discourage spider mites. Spraying with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil will also help curtail them.

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