Northern & Central Midwest

April, 2012
Regional Report

Watch for Cutworms

When setting out transplants, be ready to prevent cutworm damage. These caterpillars chew tender stems and the plants then fall over and die. Cultivate soil lightly to expose caterpillars that hide just under the soil and then destroy. Put cardboard collars around transplants until they have time to harden a bit.

Don't Work Wet Soil

Don't be tempted to get into the garden when the soil is too wet. Working or walking on wet soil compacts it and makes it hard for roots to penetrate. Take a clump of soil in your hand and squeeze. If it oozes water, walk away. If it stays in a tight clump, walk away. If it breaks apart easily, get to work.

Repot Houseplants

If your houseplant has roots growing through the drainage holes, roots on the soil surface, smaller than normal new leaves or if it wilts between waterings, consider repotting. Plants recover best when in active growth, so do it now before putting it out for the summer.

Divide Perennials

Perennials can be divided now. Signs that a plant needs dividing include: flowering is reduced and flowers are smaller, the center of the plant dies out leaving a hole with all the growth around the edges, the plant loses vigor, the plant starts to flop or open up needs staking, or it just may have outgrown its bounds.

Harvest Rhubarb

Rhubarb will begin showing later in the month. Harvest while plants have robust stems and put the excess in the freezer. Simply chop and put in a freezer bag for use in rhubarb bread and cakes. When stems become slender, stop harvesting and wait until fall. It's not necessary to remove flower stalks from plants.

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