Upper South

July, 2005
Regional Report

Control Blossom-End Rot

Water-soaked spots at the blossom end of tomatoes, peppers, squash, and cucumbers is a physiological disorder caused by a calcium imbalance within the plant. It is mainly caused by large fluctuations in soil moisture, which makes the plant unable to take up enough calcium. It usually happens when plants grow rapidly at the beginning of the season, then set fruit in dry weather. To prevent keep plants uniformly and deeply watered or use a mulch. There are also sprays available that provide calcium through the leaves.

Tune Up Power Equipment

Power equipment, such as lawn mowers, string trimmers, and tillers, will last longer if regularly maintained. Remove grass clipping buildup on both top and underneath the mowing deck, preferably after each use, but at least once a month. Check oil before each use. At least once each summer change the oil according to the manufacturer's directions. Clean or replace air filters according to the manufacturer's directions, too. Sharpen the mower blades as needed. Check the owner's manual for any other recommended service.

Plant Late-Summer Vegetables

Seeds of broccoli, cabbage, and other cool-season crops that are transplanted can be started in seed flats for transplanting later. As spring and early summer crops finish, remove debris and clean up the area. Add compost and fertilizer, then till. When a cool, rainy period is predicted, plant seeds of lettuce, chard, spinach, and arugula. These will grow best if there is light shade during hot weather; either choose a lightly shaded spot or cover with a 50 percent shade cloth. Keep evenly watered for best flavor. There is even still time for fast-growing crops like bush green beans, carrots, beets, and summer squash to mature if planted now.

Make Bouquets

All it takes is a few minutes in the garden to create a stunning bouquet for your home or to give to friends at this time of year. Don't worry about colors, just gather a mixture of flowers and foliage for a casual, cottage-style bouquet. Early morning is the best gathering time as the plants are the least heat- and moisture-stressed then. Carry a bucket of tepid water and use sharp scissors. Set the bucket of cut flowers in a cool, dim place for several hours before making your arrangement. Recut stems and remove any foliage that might be below water. Add a floral preservative to the water. Refresh the water in the vase daily.

Divide and Replant Iris and Daylilies

Iris and daylilies need dividing at least every three or four years to keep them vigorous and blooming at their peak. To divide iris, lift the clump with a garden fork, taking care not to damage the rhizomes. Brush off excess soil and use a sharp knife to cut the young rhizomes into sections. Trim the leaves to 6 inches. Replant at least 6 inches apart, with the top of the rhizome above ground. To divide daylilies, dig up clumps and separate the dense mass of roots into sections with three or four fans of leaves each. Trim foliage back to 3 inches and replant immediately or pot up to share.

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