Upper South

May, 2011
Regional Report

Transplant Wisely

When you're ready to put flower or vegetable transplants into your garden, be aware that weather conditions will affect their success at becoming established. First of all, transplants should be hardened off by placing them in a sunny location protected from high wind for a few days and reducing watering. When transplanting, choose a calm, overcast day. If that's not possible, transplant early in the evening. Always water in well. If cool temperatures or a frost is expected, cover the plants with boxes or pots.

Appreciate Fireflies

Whether you call them fireflies or lightning bugs, these beetles are not only a delight to children but also a boon to your garden. The larvae of fireflies, called glow worms, live mostly underground, but they often emerge at night to forage for food. Among their favorites are slugs, snails, and caterpillars, including cutworms, all of which can be a problem for gardeners.

Thin Fruit

Thin apple, peach, plum, and pear fruits when the fruit is still relatively small. Ideally, this is within three weeks of full bloom, but don't hesitate if you've missed that time range. Thinning helps the mature fruit to be larger, decreases the chances of limb breakage, and helps the trees to have sufficient energy to develop buds for next year's flowers and fruit.

Plant Tomatoes Deeply

While most transplants are set at about the same depth that they were previously growing, tomatoes are an exception. They form roots along the stem when it's placed underground. If your transplants are very leggy, dig a trench several inches deep, remove any leaves that will be below ground, and lay the transplants down on their sides, with only the growing tip and a few leaves above the soil surface. Deeply planted tomatoes will be less susceptible to fluctuations in soil moisture.

Succession Plant Gladiolus

For a steady supply of flowers for bouquets all summer, plant gladiolus corms every two weeks. Space 3 to 6 inches apart and with 2 to 3 inches of soil over the top of the corm. Glads can be top-heavy when in bloom, so install a stake at each corner of the planting area and wrap string around the posts to hold the plants in place. For best growth, feed with a balanced fertilizer when the flower stalk appears.

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