Coastal and Tropical South
Homemade Soil Test Kit
Garden Guides: Make a Soil Test Kit reminds me of science experiments I did in 8th grade, where I learned almost all I know about general science. The pH of soil is part of that basic understanding that everyone can put to use in gardening. Soils inherently have an acidic or basic nature, which relates directly to the plants that will grow in them. Testing soil can be helpful, for instance, in preparing soil for acid-loving camellias and blueberries or to be sure the soil mix you've made will really grow good plants. Consult your county agent for the formal, affordable procedure, but also check out the above on-line version.
Favorite or New Plant
Essential to pickles and much more, dill is easy to grow in well-drained soils. It often reseeds in our regions to keep its space marked in the herb garden. Native to the area around the Mediterranean Sea and southern Russia, dill is used in two forms, leaves and seeds. It's time to plant seeds outdoors in the Tropics region, and indoors in big peat pots for transplant next month along the Southern Coasts. Larger than most herbs that we grow, dill plants should be spaced 12 inches apart or 1 plant per 1 gallon pot. Dill is a host plant for black swallowtail butterflies, and gardeners report that growing it alongside vegetable plants has beneficial effects. Dill attracts tomato hornworms, where they are easier to spot than on the dense tomato plants they also favor. The smell of dill is also said to repel some flying insects and so divert them away from the vegetable garden.