Southern Coasts

August, 2000
Regional Report

Books

Summer Veggie Catalogs
I'm on a personal (yet hopeless) campaign to get vegetable seed catalogs released in August. Now is when southern coastal gardeners can take time out to read them, not in midwinter, when we're busy. I want new lettuces, spinach, and cole crops, and I want them now. So I dig out the catalogs that arrived last spring and look for new, short-season varieties that I can grow through fall and winter. This year I'm trying 'Osaka Purple' mustard, 'Knight' green peas, a wild arugula that matures 40 days from seeding. Crank up that air conditioner and curl up with me...and a few good seed catalogs

Favorite or New Plant

Philodendron selloum
There's no more loyal dog than the stray that adopts you. My strays are a pair of Philodendron selloum plants, courtesy of my neighbor Bob. I repotted them three years ago, kept the soil surface covered with fine-screen compost, and added soluble fertilizer to their weekly water every month from October to May. The stout ladies filled their growing space fast! Now it's a little compost, weekly watering, and virtually no other maintenance to keep them growing strong. This magnificent Brazilian native thrives in rich soils and very low light. I keep mine in pots on the porch and in the greenhouse, although last year I brought one in to photograph, and it stayed for months. They're big and eat a lot, but P. selloum makes a great house guest. They're tolerant of indoor climates and very efficient air cleaners. We call our pair the movie stars - if you rent the Warner Brothers movie My Dog Skip, you can catch a glimpse of them on a porch I decorated.

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