Coastal and Tropical South

January, 2010
Regional Report

Seed Starting

Southern coasts gardeners are starting corn seeds in peat pots this month for transplant in about a month. For the best early crop and traditional corn sweetness, choose a tried-and-true variety like Truckers Favorite or Merit. TF is very hardy, a good quality for early planting. Merit has been grown for years in the region and always performs for me. If you want the most sugary corn, grow a hybrid like Kandy Korn.

Compost Tip

Time to turn the compost, even if you never do and even if yours is no more than a leaf pile. Decomposition goes on all the time, but is suppressed in very wet or very cold weather. Since we've had both and you probably need the exercise, turn those piles. Use a pitchfork to lift sections, flip the fork over, and drop its contents on the ground next to the big pile. Continue until you reach the bottom of the pile, then reverse the process if you are working with a bin. Otherwise, let the bottom of the pile become the top for awhile. Add ryegrass clippings and green kitchen waste, eggshells, and brewed coffee for added nutrition in your compost.

Care for Daffodils

Lots of daffodils are up, a few of the earliest varieties are blooming. Deep mulch and beds full of wet leaves can suppress the bulbs' green growth, so rake some of the leaves out if needed. Fertilize newly planted bulbs when they come up, but wait until after bloom time to feed established plantings.

Make the Bed

Some unprotected vegetable plants may be frozen, even as far south as central Florida. Since they are unlikely to come back, clean up the bed and prepare to replant. Remove the yucky frozen plant debris and add to the compost heap. To check the soil conditions, turn it with a shovel and incorporate some organic matter as you go. Or add a layer if you are working with a no-till bed.

Indoor Plant Pests

Hitchhiking pests can ride indoors on plants that spend much of the year outside. Now they may be hatching or moving about on indoor plants. Look for aphids, those raised bumps at the growing point or on plant leaves. Watch for chewed leaves indicating caterpillars are feeding, or sticky white masses of mealybugs. For the soft-bodied insects, mix up 1 teaspoon of castile soap (such as Dr. Bronners) in a quart of warm water in a hand sprayer. Spray every other day until control is won.

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