Middle South

May, 2012
Regional Report

Move Houseplants Outside

If you haven't done so already, it's time to move houseplants outside. For me, it's such a relief to clear them out of the house and situate them where they're easy to water and groom. Take care to place them in full shade at first, to prevent sun scald, and then gradually move them into brighter light to suit their individual plant needs.

Document Care and Performance of Perennials

I'd like to say I keep meticulous garden records on all my plants, but it just doesn't happen. I make a greater effort with perennials, however, since they are longer lasting than annuals and more variable than woodies. Noting bloom dates and mature size, overall health (including pest and disease problems), and cultivation requirements (fertilizing, pinching or cutting back, dividing and/or transplanting), helps me keep track of the big picture and serves as a valuable learning tool.

Replace Struggling Grass with Groundcover

If you've been struggling to grow grass in an area that gets less than four hours of sun each day, why not remove the unsuccessful lawn and plant a groundcover? Though I have a particular dislike for English ivy, I have no problem recommending epimedium, liriope, mondo, pachysandra, ajuga, and if you're careful to keep it in bounds, periwinkle.

Mark Cucumbers

When planting cucumbers and other ground-vining plants, such as melons or gourds, mark the crown of the plant with an upright stick or dowel. Later, when the vines have knit together, you'll know where to water so moisture is supplied to the main roots.

Consider Container Size for Vegetable Crops

If you're opting to grow vegetables in containers this year, you'll get the biggest bang for your buck with the right size pot. Believe it or not, you can grow carrots, lettuces, and radishes in a one-gallon container. However, bush beans, turnips, and mustard will require a 2 or 3-gallon pot, while a minimum of 5-gallons of soil is needed for tomatoes, peppers, squash, potatoes, cucumbers, melons, and cabbage.

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