Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Spring into Gardening Season with April Timetable; Three Sisters Planting Brings Fun, Food and Other Benefits to Garden

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Spring into Gardening Season with April Timetable; Three Sisters Planting Brings Fun, Food and Other Benefits to Garden

Article excerpt

Byline: Amy Morie

Spring weather has been bringing some wonderful sunshine and mild temperatures our way - perfect for getting out and celebrating the season.a

Gardeners throughout North Florida are getting busy making the landscape beautiful. Across Clay County and throughout the region, dead winter growth is finally cleared, new additions established, and deadheading of your favorite blooms is likely under way.

There are so many choices it's hard to decide. When shopping for plants, whether in the store or catalogs, be sure to keep in mind that while the possibilities may seem infinite, your yard is not. The same can be said for your ability to keep up with your garden treasures. Play it safe and don't overdo it, but have fun as you spring into the gardening season.

Here is your April timetable:

SPRINGING SISTERS?

This spring, try a "Three Sisters" planting in your garden. Based on an agricultural technique of many North American Indians, the three sisters combines dietary staples with practical growing technique. Corn, beans and squash are the most common sisters, but any variations should work if you stick to the following basics:

- A tall, narrow plant as support (corn, sunflower, Jerusalem artichoke).

- A vining legume (many bean or pea varieties).

- A large-leaf or dense trailing plant (squashes, flowering herbs).

A Three Sisters planting will not only bring fun and food to the garden, it can have added benefits. Legumes help fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, providing nutrition to themselves and surrounding plants. Mixed plantings can slow the spread of insects and diseases better than a large planting of a single species.

You may even attract some garden help such as Minute Pirate bugs (what a fun name!), a beneficial insect that will take refuge in sunflowers. These little "pirates" are voracious predators of thrips, a common pest of vegetables and ornamentals.

For the little pirates, good eating and more garden fun, be sure to try a three sisters planting in your spring garden.

WISDOM OR WOE?

Is your turf turning yellow as the weather warms?

One pearl of lawn care wisdom is to never assume when diagnosing problems. There are several reasons turf may yellow. Nutrition is often the first suspect when yellowing occurs in any turf type. While lack of nitrogen or iron often do cause yellowing in turf, a quick investigation before you spend the money on fertilizer is always a good idea.

Cold or drought dormancy can be determined easily if you've been observing weather and rainfall. If you've been away, check the yards of friends and neighbors for similar conditions. Centipedegrass is naturally yellow in color, often confusing to new lawn owners of this turf type. Be prepared for a lawn that's a shade yellower than St. Augustine or other turf types.a

Insects can also make turf turn shades of yellow. Chinch bugs are a well-known spring-through-fall feeder on St. …

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