Upper South

March, 2008
Regional Report

Start Dahlias and Tuberous Begonias Indoors

Among the tender summer-blooming bulbs that can be started indoors are dahlias and tuberous begonias. Plant dahlia tubers in a dampened peat-sand mixture and let leaf growth begin. At that point, they can be divided, with each piece needing a minimum of one tuber and one shoot at the top. Transplant each piece to a pot, then when all chance of frost is over, plant into the garden. Plant tuberous begonia tubers in a dampened peat-sand mixture with the rounded, depression side facing up. Bury the tuber almost to the rim of the bowl. When leaves appear, transplant into pots or plant in the ground when all frost danger is passed.

Try Stepables and Win

Branding plants has become popular recently, and few have been as successful as the Stepables, ground cover plants that are widely available at independent garden centers. This year, gardeners can design and fashion their walkways, patios, banks, or water gardens with Stepables plants, and then submit digital images of their creativity for a chance to win various prizes for themselves and donations to local charities of their choice. For additional information on contest rules, regulations, prizes, and photo categories, go to: http://www.stepables.com.

Choose Shade-Tolerant Vegetables

Think your yard has too much shade to grow vegetables? If any area receives at least 2 hours of direct sun and indirect light the rest of the day, there are a number of vegetables that will grow. These include arugula, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, Chinese cabbage, endive, escarole, garden cress, kale, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, peas, sorrel, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips.

Control Crabgrass with Corn Gluten

Crabgrass is an annual weed that usually appears near sidewalks and driveways where the lawn has been killed due to car or foot traffic. If you want to control crabgrass, the best solution is to prevent seed emergence. The safest way to do this is with a pre-emergent based on corn gluten. Timing is crucial, as it must be applied before the weed seedlings emerge. Early to mid-April is the best time to apply. To be more precise, the soil temperatures should be 50 degrees for three consecutive days. If you plan on reseeding the lawn, do not use a pre-emergent.

Plant Asparagus and Rhubarb

Asparagus and rhubarb cannot be harvested for two or three years after planting, but then you'll be rewarded for many years to come. Because they're so long-lived, it's important to prepare the soil well. Choose a site that is naturally well drained with full sun. Remove all weeds. For asparagus, mix 1 part composted manure with 3 parts good garden soil. For rhubarb, mix equal parts good garden soil, sand, and compost or composted manure.

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