Upper South

April, 2010
Regional Report

Keep Frost Protection Handy

No matter how warm early April may be in our region, there's bound to be frosty nights yet this spring. Even though you can't cover up everything in your garden, you'll want to protect early-emerging plants, such as strawberries, herbs, daylilies, or roses. Old bed sheets and blankets, cardboard boxes, and garden pots are useful for this purpose. The heavier weights of floating row covers are also designed for frost protection.

Prune Roses

When pruning roses in the spring, remove damaged or dead canes, as well as any suckers or shoots that arise from the rootstock (this is not an issue with own-root roses). When pruning roses, be sure to cut back to an outward-facing bud so that new growth spreads away from the center of the plant, ensuring good air circulation and fewer disease problems. Fertilize roses now and apply a fresh organic mulch. For an extra boost, sprinkle one-quarter cup of Epsom salts around each rose and water in.

Carefully Try Borax for Creeping Charlie Control

Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea), is an invasive perennial weed that vines through lawns and chokes out grass. Although fairly indestructible, it is sensitive to boron. For creeping Charlie control, dissolve five teaspoons of 20 Mule Team Borax in one quart of water and spray over a 25-square-foot area of lawn. This treatment should not be used in flower or shrub beds as the boron can also harm the plants you care about. Do not repeat on lawns more than once.

Bring Flowers Indoors

Certainly the world is bursting with color outdoors, and, for some, that may be enough. But don't overlook the possibilities of having some indoors. The obvious and simple choice is a bouquet of daffodils. Try other flowers as well, plus branches of forsythia or redbud. At the garden center, pick up some extra pots of violas or primroses and put them in a plastic-lined basket for a table centerpiece.

Enjoy Rhubarb

Rhubarb is an easy-to-grow, long-lived perennial that should be in every garden. Although surviving with little care, you'll get better harvests by fertilizing in early spring and again in early summer with a half cup of complete fertilizer per plant. Start harvesting the year after planting when the stalks are 12 to 18 inches long, twisting off or cutting at ground level. Never take more than two-thirds of the stalks. Harvesting lasts 8 to 10 weeks. Preserve rhubarb by freezing. And be sure to try all manner of pies, crumbles, sauces, and other treats made with rhubarb.

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