Upper South

March, 2010
Regional Report

Clean, Clean, Clean

Work as hard as you can in the garden from now into June, then the rest of the growing season will be much easier. Remove any winter protection still on plants, cut off last year's growth on perennials if it was not removed last fall, remove weeds, feed flower beds and borders with a balanced fertilizer, and apply an organic mulch. Cared for this way, your plantings will seldom if ever need additional watering this summer and weeds should be minimal.

Get Planting

If there are any young trees, shrubs, or perennials that need to be moved in your garden, this is one of the best time's to do it, with the weather still cool and damp. Although container-grown and balled-and-burlapped trees and shrubs can be planted throughout the growing season, you'll get the most success if they are planted now (or in late fall). Be sure to prepare the soil well, digging a hole that is both deep and wide enough, then set the plant at the same depth as in the container, firm the soil well, and water.

Chit Potatoes

Studies have shown that chitted potatoes produce just as well or better than potatoes cut into pieces. So, if cutting potatoes into pieces prior to planting has always confounded you, try chitting this year. Chitting is the process of letting potatoes sprout before planting. Simply spread them out on a tray and set in a warm, bright indoor location. Depending on the variety, sprouts will be an inch or longer in several weeks. At this stage, they are ready for planting outdoors, either in the ground or containers.

Plant Berries

Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries are consistently rated as foods with superior antioxidant and health properties. Although these fruits are expensive to buy, they are quite easy to grow. Blueberries will take several years before they produce fruit, but don't let that stop you from setting out four to six plants. Six to twelve raspberry and blackberry plants will easily supply your family, starting next year. Look for 'Caroline' everbearing raspberry and 'Triple Crown' blackberry. Twenty-five to fifty everbearing strawberry plants will begin bearing by mid-July, providing plenty of berries for your cereal or smoothies.

Try Horticultural Oil for Pest Control

Also known as dormant oil, horticultural oil is an effective, environmentally friendly method for controlling scale, aphids, mites, and mealybugs when the spraying is properly timed. Use it just before or as tree and shrub buds begin to swell and when the temperature is above 45 degrees F. Be sure to follow manufacturer's directions. Horticultural oil is especially popular as a pest control on fruit trees.

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