Mid-Atlantic

April, 2011
Regional Report

Tidy Emerging Perennials

Gently remove dead brown leaves and stems from among new, emerging green leaves and stems. Carefully clip away dead leaves from coral bells and hellebores. Be careful not to bother fragile flower stems. Sometimes just tugging on dead stems will pull them out.

Plant White, Red, Yellow, Blue Potatoes

About three weeks before last frost, plant seed potatoes. Dig a trench about six inches deep. Place seed potatoes 12 inches apart. Dig next row 1 to 2 feet away. To use large potatoes, cut pieces to have three eyes. Fertilize. Add compost. Top with straw mulch.

Start Annual Flowers Indoors

Sow your favorite annuals indoors now for May planting outdoors, such as tithonia, zinnia, cosmos, bells-of-Ireland, rudbeckia, lisianthus, lobelia, thunbergia, Phlox drummondii, amaranth, agastache, stock, calendula, nicotiana, sweet scabious, celosia, and strawflower.

Choose Mulch for Veggie Garden

What do you want on paths and between rows/patches in the vegetable garden? Chopped leaves, leaf mold, compost, straw, wood chips, wooden boards, gravel? Organic material will keep weeds down this summer, then decompose into nutrients for next season's crops. Wood chips will take nitrogen from the soil so be sure to add nitrogen in some form, like alfalfa meal, or a winter cover crop. Put down thick layers of newspaper or cardboard first, then top with two to three inches of loose material for longer-lasting weed control.

Swap with Neighbors and Gardeners

Before buying seeds, contact your neighbors and gardeners with an eye toward sharing and trading. What veggies and flowers do you want to grow? Which do they want? For example, I'd like to try kohlrabi but will never use all 70 seeds. A couple community gardeners might. If I swap my 60 extra kohlrabi seeds for 12 yellow summer squash seeds and a few onion sets ... well, everyone's tummies win!

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