Middle South

June, 2007
Regional Report

Rejuvenate Dry Container Gardens

If you come home to a dried-out container planting, don't despair. Some plants will wilt dramatically but come back once moistened. If the water you add from the top pours right through, place the entire container in a saucer or tray of warm water and let the water soak into the soil from below. If it's still hot and sunny out, place the plant in a shady, cool spot for a few days. Remove damaged foliage and see if the plant develops new growth.

Prevent Blossom-End Rot

Blossom-end rot shows up as dark, sunken spots on the blossom, or non-stem, end of tomatoes, peppers, and squash. It's caused by a calcium imbalance in the plant; the soil may have adequate calcium but the plant isn't able to take up enough to supply the rapidly developing fruit. To minimize the problem, keep soil evenly moist, apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture, don't overfertilize (especially avoid high-nitrogen fertilizer), and avoid damaging plant roots while cultivating.

Don't Let Weeds Set Seed in the Garden

We all get behind in our weeding, but it's important to remove weeds before they set seeds. Some weeds will continue to develop their seeds even after you pull them, so remove them all from the garden area.

Visit Garden Daily

Pest problems can really take off in the heat of summer. Try to visit your garden daily, inspecting plants for signs of insects or disease. Check the new growth and undersides of leaves where pests like to hide. Go out at dawn or dusk to catch slugs, as well as fast-moving insects that slow down as the temperature cools. Carry a can of soapy water and brush or drop insects into it.

Harvest Herbs

The best time to harvest most herbs is just before they flower. At this time the leaves have the highest concentration of essential oils. Some herbs, such as basil, will respond by putting out a new flush of growth. Rather than picking off individual leaves, harvest entire stems right back to a set of leaves.

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