Middle South

July, 2005
Regional Report

Plan for Vacation

If you'll be away from home for more than a few days, take steps to keep container plants healthy. If possible, have a neighbor water plants daily or as needed. If that's not an option, move containers to a shady location and water plants thoroughly before you go. Group small containers together and set in a shallow basin filled with an inch or two of water. Self-watering containers are a good choice if you travel frequently during the summer.

Protect Blueberries

Birds love blueberries as much as we do, so protect bushes with netting. Rather than draping the netting over the bush -- birds will be able to reach the berries -- use stakes to suspend the netting over the shrub. Secure the netting to the ground to prevent birds from sneaking in.

Prune Blackberries

When your blackberry harvest is over, cut the old canes back to ground level using long-handled loppers. Take care not to injure the new green canes coming up, because they will bear next year's berries. When those new canes reach chest height, pinch the tips to help force out short lateral branches to produce more fruits next year.

Clean Out Your Freezer

Take stock of the amount of room you have in your freezer, and try to use up last year's frozen vegetables and fruits before adding any of this year's harvest. Be sure to label all freezer bags with the content and date, so you'll know what is what. A chest freezer is a good investment if you find your regular freezer is overflowing.

Tidy Up Crape Myrtles

Remove suckers sprouting around the base of crape myrtles. Not only will this make the plants more attractive, it can also help minimize problems with powdery mildew, which often begins in the foliage closest to the ground.

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