Middle South

June, 2011
Regional Report

Sow Flower Beds with Precision

There are a couple clever ways to make sowing a new flowerbed easy and better organized. After enriching the bed and leveling the soil, fill a plastic bottle with fine sand and pour it out on the dark earth to designate separate areas for various flowers. Then, rather than scattering the seeds, use a dowel or pencil to make straight rows within the circles and ovals. Marking areas with sand will prevent double sowing, as well as empty spaces, while rows will make it easier to distinguish young seedlings from weeds.

Transplant Thinned Seedlings

You can get more bang for your buck if you take a few minutes to transplant thinned seedlings. To ensure success, water the soil in the planting bed a couple of hours before harvesting seedlings, thin the seedlings at dusk to reduce moisture loss and heat stress, and water well after transplanting to settle the roots of seedlings into their new location.

Prevent Rotting of Wooden Structures

Wooden garden structures can be costly, so take steps to make them last by applying a preservative when they are clean and dry, locating them where the terrain is flat and doesn't collect water, keeping a check on corners where rot often starts and reapplying preservative when needed, and removing debris such as fallen limbs and leaves and abandoned nests.

Know Your Allies

All too often, any small creature in the garden is considered an enemy and is immediately eliminated. However, many insects, in either their adult or juvenile stage and sometimes both, are important predators of plant pests. Reptiles, too, usually get a bad rap. In the animal kingdom, some of our best garden allies include spiders, centipedes, ladybugs, assassin bugs, bees, hoverflies, ground beetles, praying mantises, frogs, toads, lizards, and even snakes.

Consider Companion Plants for Roses

Though I haven't seen any scientific evidence as support, I've taken note of suggestions that adding marigolds around roses may offer the same benefits they provide to the vegetable garden, namely, repelling harmful pests and reducing nematodes. If you have a rose bed that is problematic or your roses are grown in mixed borders, you might want to give this idea a try. Otherwise, the added root competition might offset any gain.

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