Upper South

August, 2006
Regional Report

Order Garlic and Shallots

Organically grown garlic and shallots can be expensive in groceries, but they're very easy to grow in the garden. In fact, the hardest part may be deciding which varieties of garlic to grow, as there are dozens available. Read and compare mail-order catalog descriptions. There are also three types of shallots, with 'Sante' being like the large type found in groceries. For best flavor, consider the smaller French grey shallot. Order garlic and shallots now for planting later in the fall. They'll be ready to harvest next summer.

Provide Crucial Water

For much of our region, rainfall has not been adequate. Having mulched garden beds is, of course, the first line of defense against droughts, but even mulched areas may eventually need watering. Check plantings frequently. To keep water use to a minimum, concentrate on deeply watering new tree and shrub plantings, as well as the food garden. Soaker hoses are the most efficient means of watering. The best kinds are very flexible. Water early in the morning so plants have adequate moisture during the heat of the day.

Seed Lawns

Mid-August to mid-September is the best time to seed lawns, either in their entirety or to patch bare spots. First remove all weeds. Choose a high-quality seed blend suited to the amount of sunlight or shade as well as the intended use. Fescues tend to withstand more wear and tear than bluegrass. If the soil in the area is compacted, either rake vigorously or till lightly. Apply fertilizer and lime, then apply seed. Rake it lightly into the soil or cover with a thin layer of straw. Water lightly every morning until the seed has sprouted and is about 3 inches tall, when it can be mowed.

Watch the Thermometer

When applying fertilizers, insecticides, or fungicides during the summer, it's best not to apply them when the temperature is above 80 degrees F, when they can potentially burn the foliage. Instead, spray in the early morning. If spraying in the evening, be sure to spray early enough for the foliage to dry, as wet foliage at night often leads to disease problems. It's also important that plants are not water-stressed when any of the materials are applied. Always make sure plants are well watered first.

Keep Vegetables Picked

Check vegetables that produce continuously, such as beans, okra, squash, and cucumbers, at least every other day. Regular harvesting will help keep them producing, because once mature seeds are formed, plants will stop producing. If you have more than you need, share with friends, shut-ins, a local food bank, or a soup kitchen. If you didn't get the beets thinned, harvest some when an inch or so in diameter, giving the others a chance to develop. For best flavor and keeping quality, harvest vegetables early in the morning.

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