Mid-Atlantic

April, 2011
Regional Report

Cut Back or Dig Out Invasive Shrubs and Vines

Invasive shrubs and vines , such as Japanese honeysuckle, autumn olive, and multiflora rose are ready to leaf out. To slow their growth, cut all branches to the ground. This is also a good time to dig out the roots, before they get a stronghold for the season.

Start Beets and Scallions Indoors

This season, I'm being frugal with seeds, more thoughtful about time and energy spent. So I'm trying a different technique for veggies I tend to plant too near each other. I'm starting beets and scallions indoors under grow lights. I planted two or three beet or scallion seeds per coir pot or CowPot. Most have sprouted. When they've developed healthy true leaves, I'll acclimatize them before planting them in the garden, far enough apart to eliminate the "thinning" step. (But since each beet "seed" is actually a dried fruit husk containing multiple seeds that sprout into a cluster of plants, I'll have to thin my beet seedlings in their pots.)

Enjoy Tulips as Cut Flowers

For tulips as cut flowers, clip while the buds are green with some bloom color showing at the edges. Clip stems somewhat short because tulips continue growing after they're cut and arranged. Cut stems at a right angle for more water uptake. Floral preservative isn't necessary. Keeping a leaf or two on the stem provides sugar so the flower will hold its color and last up to eight to ten days.

Prepare Daffodils for Bouquet

There's a reason why deer don't munch daffodils. The flower's fluid, which we see oozing where the stem is cut, contains a poison. The sap will cause other cut flowers to die quickly. So we keep daffies to themselves in a bouquet. If you'd like to experiment, you could "season" cut daffy stems in several washes of clean water. Sit them in one batch of clean water for 10 to 15 minutes. Then move them into second and third batches of clean water for the same amount of time. Check to see that is no more sap oozing from the stems. Some gardeners say at this point, the daffies are "seasoned" enough to be included in mixed bouquets.

Use Leaves for Mulch and Humus

Leaves that accumulated over the winter on the grass, in corners, and around shrubs are excellent mulch. Rather than bag them as lawn debris, put them on veggie and garden areas that tend to get weedy before you have time to plant in them. Heap leaves three, four, five inches high. When you're ready to plant, they'll have compressed to half. Rake the leafy top layer back at planting time, then respread as mulch. Leave the humusy, rich compost at the bottom to mix with native soil when you dig to plant.

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