Middle South

April, 2009
Regional Report

Start Seeds in Egg Shells

Forget about spending hard-earned money on seed starting equipment. Instead, recycle your egg shells and cartons for this purpose. After using eggs, rinse the large end of the shell and place it back in the carton. When the carton is full of empty shells, puncture the bottom of each with a sharp knife for drainage. Then, fill the shells with potting mix and sow with seeds. When seedlings are ready for the garden, dispose of shells in the compost bin.

Keep Slugs at Bay

Everyone knows you can lure slugs to beer, but I've tired of margarine tubs among the hostas. These days I use two clay pots, a 4-inch pot and a 6-inch pot, soaked in water and placed in the garden, upside down, with the small pot inside the larger one. After a nighttime feast, slugs will luxuriate in this cool and moist haven. Check the trap at midday, disposing of unwanted visitors, and your garden will be slug-free in no time.

Put an End to Poison Oak and Poison Ivy

Keep an eye out for poison oak and poison ivy, as these plants are easier to kill when they're putting out fresh, rapidly growing leaves. New, small plants can be uprooted, but older plants may require the use of an herbicide. If so, use a sponge brush for application of your product. It will saturate the leaves thoroughly while eliminating any chance of spray drift.

Plant Summer Bulbs

Wait to plant caladiums when the soil has warmed, but most other summer bulbs can be added to the garden now, including dahlia, canna, crinum, crocosmia, and all sorts of lilies. Prepare the soil and improve drainage by loosening it to a depth of 12-inches, then add a substantial measure of compost or soil conditioner. If a commercial fertilizer is selected, use a low nitrogen type with plenty of phosphorus, such as 5-10-5. If organic food is your choice, supplement it with a sprinkling of superphosphate.

Harvest Lettuce in the Morning

According to Barbara Pleasant, a vegetable-wise friend and garden writer, salad greens should be harvested first thing in the morning. She's right. Studies show that the sugar content of lettuce picked in the early hours of the day is nearly twice as high as that collected in the afternoon.

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