Upper South

May, 2012
Regional Report

Grow Sweet Potatoes This Year

Sweet potatoes aren't just for Thanksgiving but every week of the year, as they contain more vitamin A than any other fruit or vegetable plus have high amounts of vitamin E, fiber, and other health benefits. A 12- to 18-foot row of a dozen plants will yield about 40 pounds of potatoes. Sweet potatoes thrive in well-drained garden soil. Most of the readily available varieties are mature and ready for digging in 90 to 120 days.

Trim Chrysanthemums

Autumn may seem a long time away, but a little effort now will yield gorgeous results in your flower garden. Cut back the stems of chrysanthemum plants now by one-third, then do the same again in July. Although this may make plants start blooming a bit later than usual, the plants will be bushier and stronger with more flowers than ever.

Water Wisely

Ideally, gardens are not a drain on limited water resources or our pocketbooks. Choosing drought-tolerant varieties and applying organic mulches are the frontline methods for conserving water. If spring rains have been limited in your area, first-year plantings of trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials may need additional watering while they are getting established. When watering, the goal is a slow, deep soaking rather than lighter sprinklings. Check to see that the water has penetrated several inches. Using soaker hoses is another option.

Utilize Chive Blossoms

The mauve flowers of chives are not just a side benefit of growing this herbal onion relative. Pull apart the individual florets of the flowers and add to salads for a delicate chive flavor. Or fill a quart jar half full with the blossoms, then fill the jar with white wine vinegar. Store in a dark place for several weeks, then strain and store in the pantry and use in vinaigrette salad dressings. Another possibility is to mix some of the florets with butter.

Keep Flower Beds Beautiful

Removing the faded flowers, called deadheading, from annuals and perennials will help them direct their energy into strong growth. And, for plants that rebloom, deadheading will encourage plants to produce more flowers. To make this more of a pleasure than a chore, use this as an opportunity to enjoy your garden as well as to see what other things you can do to improve your plants growth, such as seeing which ones need a plant support or is being bothered by pests.

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