Mid-Atlantic

March, 2009
Regional Report

Bring Spring Indoors

Treat yourself and your loved ones to a bright, colorful bouquet of budded tulips. Watch and enjoy as they open slowly throughout the day. A yellow cluster of daffodils is delightful too. Keep daffies in their own vase though. They have a toxin that will seep into the water and wilt other types of flowers.

Tidy and Fertilize Winter Pansies

If you planted winter pansies last fall, they likely look winter-worn by now. Don't despair. Don't pull them up. Carefully clip away the brown and dead foliage. Water even the little bit that's left with a water-soluble fertilizer to give them a spring tonic. If they're true winter pansies, they'll revive and bloom till they poop out in the summer heat.

Scope Out Your Neighborhood for Young Gardening Help

This is a win/win proposal. Could you use a hand with certain gardening chores -- emptying the compost bin, applying mulch, digging holes for shrubs, lifting lawn grass for a new perennial bed, washing and disinfecting plastic and clay plant pots? Are there youngsters nearby who could use spending money ... and benefit from learning a bit of work ethic from a thoughtful adult? Look and ask around. I bet there's untapped potential....

Remove and Replace Near-Dead Shrubs

If you're like me, it's difficult to give up on an ailing plant. If TLC and kelp cocktails don't help a shrub in decline though, there are two options. Hire a professional, reputable tree care service for an opinion and treatment estimate. Or closely examine the shrub yourself for dead wood and make an educated guess about removal and replacement. In southeastern Pennsylvania, mature rhododendrons often fall victim to rhododendron borer that makes deep holes in the main trunk-like branches. If a stump with wee sprouts are all that's left, dig it out and plant a healthy, site-appropriate and replacement.

Get Silly

Here's something fun to do alone, or with a light-hearted friend or youngster. No garden design or plan required. Are there white potatoes sprouting in your kitchen? Get a knife and cutting board. Keep the small potatoes whole. Cut large potatoes into halves or quarters, with two to three active sprouts (growth eyes) per piece. Is there a weedy area you'd like to turn into garden -- eventually. Or an empty spot on the edge or in the back of your sunny garden bed, shrub border, driveway, beside the compost bin? While the spud pieces form a callus, weed and loosen the soil. Fork in some compost, leaf mold, organic fertilizer. Plant each potato slip about 2 inches deep. Forget about them for 3, 4 months. Harvest new potatoes when the plants flower; full-size potatoes after the plant tops die back.

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