Upper South

February, 2012
Regional Report

Transplant Snowdrops

Spread the wintertime joy of early-blooming snowdrops by dividing and transplanting large clumps "in the green." Use a garden fork or spade to lift clumps of snowdrops as they finish blooming. Be sure to dig deeply to get all of the bulbs. Gently divide the clumps into six to eight bulbs. Dig a hole 4 to 6 inches deep, place the bulbs in the hole, then fill in with soil, making sure the leaves are above the soil surface. Don't remove the leaves but let them die down naturally.

Prune and Clean

Getting the garden tidied, trimmed, and tended will be your mantra for the next several months. If you didn't trim perennials last fall, then start making inroads now before new growth starts. There are also the shrubs that bloom on new growth or die back to the ground, each of which benefit from pruning. These include butterfly bush, caryopteris, certain hydrangeas, and red-twig dogwood. As you clean and prune an area, consider also fertilizing and mulching; just keep in mind that there is some disagreement as to whether to do this now or wait until temperatures are a bit warmer.

Grow Sprouts and Microgreens

Growing your own sprouts and microgreens is a great way to not only "garden" indoors but also to add another nutritious and inexpensive element to your meals, especially to salads. Be sure to buy seeds that are either sold specifically for sprouting or organic ones that have not been treated with pesticides. To grow sprouts, the materials can be as simple as a glass jar and cheesecloth or you can buy items specifically designed for sprouting. For microgreens, seeds are sown in a small container of soil and harvesting when several inches tall.

Make a Spring Flower Basket

A sure sign that spring isn't far away is when garden centers and florist shops begin to offer pots of primroses, hyacinths, and daffodils. Buying just one of these is cheering but creating a basketful? Now that makes a serious statement of optimism. Chose a basket about the same height as the pots, line with plastic, and put the plants inside. Cover the pots with long-fibered sphagnum or other material to hide them. Use as a centerpiece on the dining table or accenting another area where you can enjoy it frequently. Keep the plants watered, then plant them outdoors later.

Try a Sweeter Beet

The pigments in both red and yellow beets provide powerful antioxidant activity as well as being an excellent source of folate, manganese, and potassium, while beet greens provide a wide range of vitamins plus more antioxidants. If you're still not convinced why you should grow and eat them, this year try some of the very sweet baby beets, like 'Kestrel', 'Pacemaker III', or 'Pablo'. Any beet leaves can be eaten as greens, but the red-leaved 'Bull's Blood' are particularly nutritious.

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