Lower South

April, 2013
Regional Report

Plant Peppers and Eggplant

As the weather warms up pepper and eggplant transplants will be happy to join the other vegetables out in the garden. Firm the soil in around the plants as you set them out and then water them in well with a soluble fertilizer product at a dilute rate. Continue to fertilize the plants weekly for a month to keep them growing fast. Watch for pests such as aphids, flea beetles, or caterpillars that may want to munch on the tender plants. A rowcover over the plants at planting time will screen out these pests, avoiding the need to spray.

Fertilize Southern Turfgrasses

After you have mowed your turfgrass twice it is time to fertilize the lawn. Southern turf species including St. Augustine, Bermudagrass, Zoysia and Centipede will benefit from a moderate feeding now that the warming temperatures have them growing well. Apply a lawn fertilizer product at a rate of 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of turf area. Fertilizer concentrations vary so divide the first number on the bag into 100 to get the pounds of fertilizer to apply to 1,000 square feet of lawn area.

Create Colorful Containers

Choose some colorful annual plants for creating beautiful container plantings. The larger the container the less often you'll have to water. Large containers also allow room for a mixed planting for added interest. Choose some cascading flowers or greenery for the sides, and some flowers and foliage for the center of the container. Make sure the container has drainage holes. Water the new plants in with a dilute soluble fertilizer solution and then fertilize every few weeks with a soluble product or use a slow release product for extended feeding.

Thin Fruit Trees

Fruit trees that survived any late frosts need to have the crop thinned so they can develop a full load of good sized fruit. Thin peaches to 6 inches and plums to 4 inches apart. Thin apples and pears to one per cluster. To hedge your bet against insect damage and other injuries to the fruit you may want to do about half to two thirds of the thinning soon after the blooms fall and then finish the job when the fruit reaches thumb sized. This way you can remove damaged fruit in the second thinning and leave mostly unblemished fruit to form the crop.

Fertilize Young Trees and Shrubs

Trees that were planted last fall, winter,and spring will benefit from some added nutrition now. Spread one cup of lawn fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter in the area extending about twice as wide as the root ball diameter. Water the fertilizer in well after application. If in doubt spread it evenly throughout a two foot diameter area. Trees planted 6 months to several years ago can receive two cups of the same product per inch of trunk diameter knee high. Spread it in an area extending as far as the branch spread and then rake it into the soil or mulch and water it in well.

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Special Report - Garden to Table