Middle South

July, 2005
Regional Report

Don't Fret Over Mushrooms

With all the rain we've been having, mushrooms may be popping up in your lawn and gardens. Don't worry, though; they won't harm plants. The presence of mushrooms generally indicates there is some buried organic matter, perhaps an old stump, and once that organic matter is fully decomposed the mushrooms will disappear. In the meantime, don't use chemicals to try to eradicate the mushrooms; you'll be wasting time and money, you may harm desirable organisms, and the mushrooms will likely just reappear.

Observe Sun and Shade Patterns

If the container-grown plants on your porch or deck are struggling, note their location. Plants that were in full sun when the sun was lower in the sky in spring, or when trees weren't full leafed out, may now be shaded. Move sun-lovers to a brighter spot, and bring in some shade-tolerant plants to take their place.

Fertilize Container Plants

If containers and hanging baskets are starting to flag, rejuvenate them with a hard pruning and some fertilizer. Prune back a third of the straggly stems to within a few inches of the soil line, and prune the remaining stems to different lengths. Then fertilize with compost tea, fish emulsion, or a commercial fertilizer to spur new growth. If the plants are unsightly, set them in an inconspicuous -- but appropriately sunny or shady -- place for a few weeks. Don't forget to water them, though!

Root Coleus Cuttings

Expand your supply of coleus by rooting cuttings. Your plants are probably in need of some pruning, anyway. Just place the prunings in moist potting soil, and you'll have new plants in a few weeks. You can do the same with other easy-to-root plants, such as mint and lemon balm.

Pickle Beets

Harvest and wash beets, leaving about 2 inches of stem attached. Boil the beets until tender, then plunge into cold water. Once they're cool, the skins should slip right off. Cut the beets into slices or cubes and place in canning jars. Mix together 2 cups each of water, sugar, and apple cider vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the liquid over the beets, cover jars, and refrigerate. If you want to keep the beets in long-term storage, process in a hot water bath or pressure canner.

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