Mid-Atlantic

June, 2009
Regional Report

Divert Your Downspout

Is rain water streaming down your driveway or sidewalk during a storm? Are your downspouts angled to send rain across impervious surfaces then into the street and storm drains? With some thought and a trip to the hardware store, you can use that precious water on your veggies, ornamental shrubs, perennials, trees, annuals, grass. Agreed, you don't want water accumulating in your foundation. There are many sizes and types of inexpensive downspout extensions that will carry rainwater away from your home yet into a garden bed, lawn, or under trees. A good deed in at least two ways -- less water down the storm drains; more water to green your greenery.

Border With Bok Choy

I hope that got your attention. Oriental greens are just one possibility. Planting attractive, easy-to-harvest veggies and herbs on the borders of ornamental beds is win/win. Romaine, buttercrunch, bib, red leaf lettuces. Airy-leafed carrots. Basil -- from purple-ruffled to Thai to traditional Genovese. Flat-leafed and curly-leafed parsley. Rainbow Swiss chard, Chiogga (and other) beets. Scallions. Let your eye and your stomach be your inspiration.

Mulch Between Vegetable Rows

Straw without seeds is a popular, inexpensive veggie garden mulch. Place layers of newspaper -- 3, 4 sheets -- on the soil (to help weed suppression). Top generously with straw or composted leaves from your backyard OR your community leaf-processing operation. Mulching now will payoff with minimal weeding and more "free" time this summer.

Use the Black Gold in Your Worm Bin

If your worms have been feasting for two, three months, they've produced lots of castings -- nutritious fertilizer for garden plants. There are two techniques for separating the reg wigglers from the brown gook. One is to move the worm-working contents to one side of the bin. Place new straw/leaf bedding and food on the other side. I've read that the worms will migrate to the new material. The other option is to don plastic gloves and separate out the worms and their cocoons from the castings and other organic material. Having a child or two to help makes this more fun... and a silly science lesson.

Divide Daffies

Take a minute -- before you automatically pull away the dead, brown daffodil leaves. (Don't touch the green leaves! They're feeding the bulb for next spring's flowers.) If that cluster or clump looked packed with blooming daffies this spring, now's the time to lift, divide, replant the bulbs. Also time if the clump had NO flowers. Fertilize with a bulb fertilizer. Carefully use a garden fork below the cluster to lift the bulbs. Separate them -- large, medium, small. Replant 8 to 12 inches apart. Depth -- plant pointed end up twice as deep as the bulb is high. (Plant a 2-inch bulb 4 inches deep.)

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