Upper South

March, 2011
Regional Report

Take Time to Enjoy Spring

With warmer weather coming much earlier than usual this year for much of our region, the elements of spring are speeding by. The snowdrops are long gone, the crocus and little iris are fading, and daffodils are in full bloom. What with all the chores that spring demands, it's easy to barely lift your head from the task at hand, but be sure to do just that. Soak in the sights and sounds of spring.

Tend and Cook Rhubarb

Rhubarb is one the culinary gifts of spring, yielding desserts as well as sauces for main courses. It is an easy-to-grow perennial doing best on fertile, well-drained soils that are high in organic matter. Fertilize each spring with about one cup of a complete fertilizer, applying it in a circle around the plant as growth starts. In late fall or early winter, make an application of well-composted manure or leaves around the plant but don't cover the crown.

Have Frost Protection Ready

With temperatures already soaring to the high 70s, it's easy to think that frost is a thing of the past, but, officially, most of our region is not out of danger until early May. Depending on the size of your garden, you'll be hard-pressed to cover everything that has sprouted and is growing. Still, try to think ahead as to which plants are most important to you and have some old sheets, frost-protection fabric, or even plastic pots handy for covering them.

Pot Stored Cannas

Canna rhizomes that were over-wintered indoors can be potted up to get a jump-start on their growth and flowering this summer. Divide the rhizomes into pieces that each have two to three growing points, or eyes, and plant them using a high-quality, well-draining potting mix. Transplant into the garden when all danger of frost is past.

Fertilize Spring-Flowering Bulbs

As the foliage of spring-flowering bulbs begins to appear and flowers emerge, apply a complete fertilizer to the surface of the soil. For a complete fertilizer like 10-10-10, an appropriate amount would be one to two pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet. An easy way to figure this is to just lightly sprinkle some around the plants. Apply an organic mulch around the bulbs to maintain even soil moisture and prevent weeds. Allow bulb foliage to turn yellow before cutting it off.

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