Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Upper South

May, 2005
Regional Report

Keeping the Vegetables Coming

The intensity in the vegetable garden just got turned up several notches. All the main-season crops can be planted now, plus care and harvest of the cool-season crops has peaked. Try to design the garden so there is space for succession plantings, especially for bush beans, as these tend to produce over a short period (which is great for canning or freezing). An alternative is to grow pole beans, as they continue producing all summer. Consider using lightweight, non-woven garden fabric to protect crops from pests such as flea beetles on eggplant and cucumber beetles on squash, cucumbers, and melons.

Feed and Mulch Blueberries

Fertilize blueberries with a fertilizer recommended for azaleas and rhododendrons. Sprinkle two handfuls around the plant, starting near the base and working out to the perimeter of the branches. Scratch it very lightly into the soil, then apply several inches of mulch, such as pine needles or dark hardwood. In two weeks, fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer. Blueberries are very easy to grow, being much more adaptable to soil conditions than most people think. Plus, they produce lots of fruit high in antioxidants.

Keep Spring Flowers Blooming

Some spring-blooming perennials will reflower if the faded flowers are sheared off. These include arabis, anchusa, aubrietia, cerastium, and golden alyssum. Pansy blooming can be prolonged with regular deadheading, although once weather becomes hot, most varieties die out. Among the most heat-tolerant of the pansies are the 'Imperial' series, 'Jolly Joker', and 'Padparadja'. Let at least some of the smaller-flowered violas go to seed and self-sow.

Caring for Peonies

Peonies are very long-lived and grow best when left in one spot, so choose your location carefully. They grow well in both full sun and light shade. Cover the eyes on the tubers with no more than 1 inch of soil. Prepare the soil deeply, adding lots of organic matter. Keep plants watered well and feed with bimonthly applications of a water-soluble fertilizer, following manufacturer's directions. For the largest flowers, remove the side flower buds. By late summer, foliage may be brown and unsightly; this can be cut off, if desired.

Transplant Tender Flowers and Vegetables

Trying to second-guess when the last frost might happen is similar to betting on a horse race: it's anybody's guess. May 10 is the average last frost date for our area. After that time it is usually safe to transplant tomatoes, basil, impatiens, marigolds, and other frost-susceptible flowers and vegetables. If possible, choose a cloudy day when rain is forecast. Tomatoes can be set in the ground up to the bottom leaves; most other plants should be set at the same depth as they were growing in the pot. Follow tag directions for spacing. Water immediately after planting.


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