Upper South

April, 2011
Regional Report

Create A Dooryard Herb Garden

Herbs not only add flavor to your meals but many are also rich in antioxidants. Plus, by using herbs in your cooking, it will be easier to limit your fat and salt intake. Having your own fresh herbs near the kitchen door is the best way to get in the habit of using them regularly. A relatively small area, such as a 4-by-4-foot raised bed or a large container will provide enough space for the basic herbs, such as basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, cilantro, chives, and dill.

Add Berries to Your Garden

Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, gooseberries, and currants each bring great flavors to your meals as well as vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. All of them are easy to preserve by freezing so that you can enjoy them year-round. None of them are difficult to grow as long you have an area with well-drained, humus-rich soil and full sun. Strawberries and raspberries planted this spring will begin bearing next year (everbearing types will still bear fruit later this year), but the others require two or more years. Still, the investment in time is well worth it as you'll get fruit for years to come.

Provide Support for Perennials

Have some of your perennials flopped over to the ground just as they were getting into bloom? Some of the worst culprits are peony, yarrow, salvia, and Shasta daisy. Inserting plant rings over the plants now will make your garden more manageable and beautiful. These rings are widely available at garden centers or by mail order. Insert the legs into the ground until about 8 to 10 inches is still above ground, with the circle centered over each plant. As the plant grows, the support will become almost invisible.

Prune and Feed Spring-Blooming Trees and Shrubs

Most spring-blooming trees and shrubs produce flower buds this summer for next year's bloom. As soon as the ones in your garden have finished flowering is the time to trim or shape them. Shrubs that have become overgrown can be cut back hard. This is also the perfect time to apply a complete fertilizer, following manufacturer's recommendations. Apply it to the soil around the plant as far as the branches extend. Work the fertilizer lightly into the soil. If no rain is imminent, then water deeply.

Document and Care for Spring-Flowering Bulbs

Think ahead to this fall when you'll want to add more spring-flowering bulbs to your garden. Will you know what you already have and where? Avoid this confusion by taking photographs of the various areas of the garden that have tulips, narcissus, and other bulbs blooming this spring. Do this at least once a week until all have bloomed. Include enough of the surrounding area and plants so that the photos will be helpful in the fall. Meanwhile, remove faded flower stems, but be sure to leave the fading foliage until it has yellowed, then it can be cut off.

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