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Timely tendings: Vegetable gardening is in full swing in the spring

Vegetable gardening should be in full swing this month. Keep a watch for insects and diseases, and be prepared to treat at the first sign of invasion. Vegetables are annual plants that require a lot of fertilizer while growing. Keep side-dressing every five to six weeks. There is still time to plant pole beans, lima beans, cantaloupes, collards, okra, sweet potatoes and summer squash.

Fertilize annuals, Bahia grass (if not fertilized in February), bananas, bromeliads, bulbs, cacti, crape myrtles, figs, hibiscus, hollies, ligustrums, papayas and vegetables. If you are using a weed-and-feed lawn fertilizer, use care, since herbicides can damage the lawn if temps are above 85 degrees. Also, be sure your type of grass is listed on the label, and keep the product away from the roots of shrubs and trees when it is applied. Be sure to use ordinance-compliant fertilizers; check with your municipality if you're not sure.

>> Begin spraying susceptible roses weekly for black spot. If the leaves take on a dusty appearance or show signs of yellowing without black or brown spotting, check for spider mites or Chilli thrips. Mites are a common problem on roses in the dry spring months. Chilli thrips are very hard to see. Feeding damage turns tender leaves and buds a bronze color. Damaged leaves curl upward and appear distorted, and the leaves will fall off the plant. Several products, including insecticidal soaps and oils, can be used to control mites. For Chilli thrips, use neem oil. As with all pesticides, follow the label directions carefully.

Information from Carol Suggs and Theresa Badurek of the Pinellas County Extension Service and from the Hillsborough County Extension Gardening Almanac. Go to the extension websites at and

Timely tendings: Vegetable gardening is in full swing in the spring 03/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 26, 2011 4:30am]
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