Middle South

April, 2001
Regional Report

Plant Swiss Chard


The last great spring green to plant this is Swiss chard. It tolerates hot weather like a champ. I love the 'Bright Lights' variety because it includes plants with pink, red, orange, and white ribs. The seedlings show the colors, so you can fine-tune your look as you thin.

Rescue Old Plants

Petunias, annual phlox, dianthus, and sweet alyssum grow best in cool weather. You can rescue overgrown plants by snipping off old blossoms, fertilizing, and watering after transplanting. In no time they\'ll be flowering up a storm again before the heat hits.

Turn Compost


Warm weather will coax your compost back to life. You can help it along by using an iron fork to mix the materials and incorporate air. This will accelerate the decomposition process. Turn it again after three weeks and mix in some fresh green grass clippings to boost its nitrogen content and really get it cooking.

Mulch Potatoes


Even if wet weather delayed potato planting, surround your plants with a thick blanket of straw to keep the soil cool and moist. Mulch also deters Colorado potato beetles by making it hard for the newly emerged crawling beetles to find the plants. Later, when the tubers develop, it will keep strong sun from turning them green.

Water Salad Greens


Lettuce, mesclun, and other salad greens need lots of water, so keep them moist. Plenty of water improves quality too, making the leaves sweet and crisp. To extend your salad season, sow a heat-tolerant oak-leaf type to have salads into May.

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