Lower South

January, 2011
Regional Report

Start Vegetable Transplants for Spring Gardening

This month is a good time in much of the Lower South to begin planting seeds indoors to start growing transplants for the spring garden. Some seeds reach transplanting size in a few weeks, while others such as some herbs may take 2 months or more. Consider your last average frost date and the length of time your vegetables need to reach transplant size. That will help you create a calendar of what to plant when. Remember that you can always move a plant into a larger pot to keep it growing until it is safe to move outdoors!

Plant Bare Root Roses

Bare root roses are available at many local garden centers and by mail order. These bare root plants are usually less expensive than their container grown counterparts. Two important planting tips are to dig the hole only as deep as the root system on the bare root rose plant and to water the plant in as you backfill the hole to help settle soil around the roots and remove air pockets in the soil.

Stockpile Leaves for Composting and Mulching

This is a time when many homeowners rake up the fallen leaves as part of a landscape clean up effort. They are usually more than happy to let you have the bagged leaves for your garden. Stockpile the leaves in a large wire mesh ring or even just a large heap in an out of the way location. Shredding before you stockpile allows for more compact storage. These leaves will be great for mulching in the hot summer months to come or for composting into "black gold" for the garden.

Prune Deciduous Trees

This is a good time to make any needed pruning cuts on deciduous trees. Young trees are pruned to train them into a strong branch structure. Older trees are pruned to remove narrow branch angles, broken branches, or to open the canopy to allow more light to reach the turf or ornamental plants below. Take time to learn the best way to train your type of tree. Make only the cuts needed to do the job right and use sharpened pruners to leave clean cuts that will heal rapidly.

Clean Up Ornamental Clumping Grasses

Clumping ornamental grasses such as miscanthus, muhly, and pennisetum can become less attractive over time if the old dead material is left to distract from the fresh new growth. Cut these clumps back to about a foot or less high. In spring the new growth will emerge to recreate a beautiful plant.

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