Upper South

February, 2014
Regional Report

Plan for Spring Greens

Frigid temperatures won't last forever, and in only a few weeks fast-growing spring greens like leaf lettuce, arugula, and spinach can be planted in the garden if provided with protection. This protection can be as elaborate as a purchased cold frame or as simple as PVC pipes stuck in the ground and covered with clear plastic. Have your seeds and protective system ready for those first warm days. There are dozens of leaf lettuce varieties available, so if you can't make up your mind, choose one of the mixtures that most seed catalogs offer.

Start Cool-Season Transplants

Count back seven to nine weeks from your average last spring frost date. This is the best time to start seeds indoors of cool-season vegetables that get transplanted into the garden about two weeks before the average last frost, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. If you're gardening for a household of only two or three people, consider growing the early-maturing, mini cabbages like 'Gonzales' or 'Arrowhead', which mature in eight to nine weeks at 1 to 3 pounds.

Tend Awakening Houseplants

Day length is already more than an hour longer than it was in December, which means that houseplants are beginning to do more than just hold their own. As they respond to the light with growth, pay extra attention to watering needs and begin giving applications of fertilizer, following manufacturer's directions. Remember, too, to turn the plants periodically so that all sides receive adequate light and grow evenly.

Prepare for Bluebirds

Bluebirds are gardeners' favorites not only for their beauty but also for their bug-eating capabilities. Bluebirds will move into houses with oval holes that measure 2-1/4 inches tall and 1-3/8 inches wide, or round holes that measure 1-1/2 inches in diameter. This size hole will keep starlings out, but not house sparrows. To thwart the latter, use a house that has an open roof covered with hardware cloth. Also, avoid using a house with a perch in the front.

Give Organic Flower Bouquets

Thinking about cut flowers for Valentine's Day? Seventy percent of cut flowers are grown in Central and South America under conditions harmful to both people and the environment, including the use of over a hundred highly toxic chemicals. Organically grown bouquets are available online, or why not purchase a flowering plant that will bring pleasure for a much longer time.

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