Middle South

April, 2010
Regional Report

Coax Easter Lilies to Bloom Again

Don't discard your Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum). Instead, enjoy its blooms again next year by planting it in the garden. To do so, remove the plant from its pot and cut off spent blooms, then select a sunny, well-drained location. Place it, with soil and roots attached, several inches below the natural soil level and mound additional soil around the stem for stability. Feed with slow release fertilizer and water during dry spells. In future years, the lily will bloom in summer.

Try Trench Composting

If you lack the space for a compost pile but want the benefits, try composting in a trench. Wherever there is space adjacent to, or in a garden bed, dig a narrow ditch or round hole that is deep enough to contain some of your vegetable waste, egg shells, and garden clippings. Cover the waste material with at least six inches of soil and let the microbes and earthworms do the work. Next spring, remember to turn the soil, mixing the enriched area of soil into the bed.

Keep Wooden Plank Within Reach

A wooden board, about 10-inches wide by 3-feet long, makes a handy garden tool. Instead of tiptoeing through beds to plant or cultivate, use it as gangplank to distribute your weight and prevent soil compaction. You can also turn it on edge to make a trench for planting row crops, or prop it with a stick or bricks to shade a new plant, protecting it from scorching sunlight until it becomes better acclimated.

Pick the Right Hose

When purchasing a water hose for the garden, remember the old adage, "you get what you pay for." Heavy-duty hoses have better couplings and resist kinking and, if made of rubber rather than vinyl, will stand up to ultraviolet rays and cold weather. Skinny hoses cost less, but are no bargain when you count the extra time it takes to water. For example, a 1/2-inch diameter hose will provide 10.5 gallons a minute, while a 5/8-inch will give 17 gallons a minute, and a 3/4-inch will blast 31 gallons a minute.

Eat Your Weeds

A number of familiar garden weeds, such as dandelion and purslane, can be eaten fresh or cooked. Before taking advantage of a weed harvest, however, educate yourself with a field guide and instructional book, such as Eat the Weeds by Ben Charles Harris. Be careful to avoid roadsides and other areas that may have been sprayed with herbicides, and also check with landowners before foraging.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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