Coastal and Tropical South

March, 2011
Regional Report

Wait to Fertilize Lawns

If your lawn grass type goes dormant in winter, it's likely to be greening up now. There's sometimes pressure to have the greenest lawn first, usually accomplished by jolting the grass with a fast-acting nitrogen fertilizer. That practice can be counterproductive to having a nice green lawn all year. Wait until the lawn turns green, mow it once, and then fertilize, using a slow release, preferably organic, formula. Repeat as directed on your product's label and please mow often enough so you remove no more than one-third of the height of the grass blades when you mow at the recommended height for your type of grass.

Control Slugs and Snails

Why these critters love our gardens is easy to understand and frustrating to do anything about. Air and soil temperatures, rainfall amounts, and food sources are at ideal levels for slugs and snails this month. To reduce problems with these pests, we can keep mulches to an inch deep, turn the compost, and keep an eye out for piles of leaves or plant debris that might be their shaded, damp nesting place. We can use barrier products around plants and set out traps other than those with beer as an attractant. Research has shown that beer traps bring in the neighbors' slugs and snails, too, and no one needs that.

Prepare for Hummingbirds

Clean hummingbird feeders now with soap and hot water followed by a hot water rinse. Whether you make your own nectar or use a commercial mix, clean the feeder regularly to keep it safe for the birds. If bees or wasps try to get into the feeder, wipe the openings with a small amount of vegetable oil to deter them. The hummers hover, but the bees need somewhere to land.

Grow a Tomato Basket

Hanging baskets of tumbling tomatoes are gaining popularity for their great productivity. They bear in big clusters, such as red or yellow cherry tomatoes like 'Tumbling Tom%' or paste types like 'Windowbox Roma'. Grow two or three plants in a 10 or 12 inch basket of well-drained potting mix and water often enough to prevent wilting. Fertilize at two week intervals with a soluble formula mixed at half strength.

Cut Off Cutworm Damage

Tender young stems of every vegetable from cabbage to zucchini seem to be the target of cutworms at one time or another. You plant the little seedling and the next morning it's cut off at ground level or gone entirely. If these menaces might be a threat, protect the seedlings. Cut a two-inch section of a cardboard tube (toilet paper or paper towels work fine) and slide it over the seedling at planting time.

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