Upper South

May, 2009
Regional Report

Go On A Garden Tour

Local garden clubs, plant societies, and other groups often have private gardens open for touring at this time of year. This is a great opportunity to see new or different plants as well as get inspiration and ideas for fences, arbors, walks, patios, and decorating the garden. If allowed, take a camera along as well as a notebook. Check local papers and garden centers for information about tours in your area.

Enjoy Asparagus and Rhubarb

Harvest asparagus by cutting or snapping spears at or just below soil level until mid-June to allow plants to develop and store food reserves for next year's harvest. If some spears get past "picking" stage, then cut them off and add to the compost. Harvest rhubarb by cutting, or grasp the stalk and pull it up and twist slightly to one side. After mid-June, allow foliage to develop for next year. Remove flower stalks at any time. No time to make rhubarb jam? Freeze now and make jams, chutneys, and other treats later.

Move Houseplants Outdoors

Now that all frost is most likely over, begin moving houseplants to a shady, wind-protected spot outdoors. Plants will dry out more quickly outdoors, so keep a close eye on soil moisture. Remember to fertilize regularly as houseplants are growing their best in summer. This is also a good time to take cuttings or divide houseplants to increase a collection or share with friends. Root cuttings in vermiculite or perlite and maintain humidity levels with a plastic bag or other cover.

Conserve Water

As you add plants to the landscape, try to choose ones that are drought tolerant. Another option to lessen water needs in the garden is add several inches of mulch around all the plants with compost or hardwood. Besides keeping the soil moist, this improves the soil and lessens weed growth. Consider investing in a rain barrel to use for watering plants. Adding a rain garden is to good way to lessen the impact of rain water in storm sewers.

Stave Off Critters and Sunburn

Your garden isn't the only aspect that is subject to pests and diseases. As you work and play outdoors, remember to use pest repellents and sunscreen. There's a wide variety of repellents available, but whichever one you choose, be sure to apply it daily before you start to work in the garden. The same goes for sunscreen. Choose an SPF 30 at least and apply it generously to face, neck, arms, hands, and legs. If you're staying outside for an extended period, re-apply ever couple of hours.

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