Upper South

June, 2005
Regional Report

Replace Spring Vegetables

As the heat takes its toll on the cool-season vegetables, such as peas, broccoli, cabbage, raab, arugula, and lettuce, remove the plants, loosen the soil, add fertilizer, and replant with a summer crop. There's still time for most crops to mature. Green beans grow quickly, maturing in about 50 days, while edamame (edible soybeans) take about 90 days. Summer squash and cucumbers also grow fast, providing harvests in 50 days or so. When starting plants directly from seed, keep the area watered well if the weather is dry, or sow just before a rain. Plant transplants late in the day and provide shade with an upturned pot or cardboard box for several days.

Harvest Herbs As Needed

Many people worry about the "right" time for picking herbs, when any time you want to use them is fine. Preferably, every day! Cutting back plants often encourages them to send out new growth. Basil, especially, needs to have the flower buds nipped off to keep it growing. The only caveat is harvesting herbs for drying. The best time for this is just before they bloom, when the plant oils are at their highest levels. Adding fresh herbs to vegetables, marinades, and burgers is a great way to add flavor without salt or calories.

Pick Blueberries

Blueberry season is here. The berries don't ripen any further once they're picked, so be sure to wait until they are a dark blue in order to get the best flavor. Blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow and are also a nutritional powerhouse. If you don't have your own bushes, go to a blueberry farm or farmer's market for some, and plan on adding some bushes to the garden next year. Besides the fruit, they also have great red fall color. They'll begin producing fruit in just a few years.

Weed, Then Weed Some More

Weeds have a way of growing the minute your back is turned. So just because you have an area clear, that doesn't mean you can rest on your laurels. Check areas frequently. Pulling or hoeing weeds when they're small is much easier than when they become well established. Always be sure to remove the entire weed, root and all. To help prevent weed seed germination, use an inhibitor, such as corn gluten, which also adds nitrogen to the soil. There are also natural herbicides available.

Experiment with Cuttings

Taking softwood cuttings of this year's new growth on trees and shrubs is a fascinating way to increase plants. Cuttings should be about 6 inches long. Remove the lower half of the foliage. Dip cuttings in a rooting hormone and place in moistened sand, perlite, or vermiculite. Cover with a plastic bag, held away from the leaves by sticks or wire, or use a large, domed plastic cover that fits a standard flat. Place in bright, indirect light. Keep the rooting medium evenly moist. Depending on the plant, roots will develop in several weeks to several months. At that time, cuttings can be potted up.

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