Tropical South

April, 2004
Regional Report

Get Rid of Weeds

Let dry times really motivate you to get the weeds out because otherwise they will take up as much as 50 percent of the moisture and the nutrients in the soil, and we don't have any of either to waste. The good part is that most of the weeds won't come back until the rains do.

Harvest the Summer-Sensitive Herbs

Enjoy, take cuttings, and harvest the abundant foliage of the drought-loving herbs, such as catmint, curry plant, lamb's ears, lemon balm, some of the mints, lavender, scented geraniums, parsley, and thyme. They love this dry weather but will melt away to some degree when the rains do come.

Be Diligent About Watering

Remember that timing is important. Plants in smaller pots and new seedlings can dry up and die within a few hours if they don't have the water they need. Check them at least daily and even twice on hot days when they are very small.

Collect Mulch

The best thing you can do for almost any planting in any soil at any time of the year is to mulch lavishly. Mulch will preserve moisture, keep down weeds, increase microbial life in the soil, increase earthworm activity, improve soil structure, and thereby make
plants more resistant to disease and insect problems. I am the neighborhood bag lady, bringing home bags of leaves, grass clippings, and pine needles set out for pick up. The trash men love me. If you are more refined and not as cheap, you can buy mulch.

Don't Buy Cypress Mulch

Almost any mulch is good, but cypress mulch is being harvested from good trees whose loss is hurting the environment. Most other mulches sold in the garden sections are byproducts, such as pine straw and pine bark, or made from trees we want to get rid of like eucalyptus and melaleuca. Commercial mulches are treated so they contain no weed seeds.

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