Upper South

June, 2007
Regional Report

Feed Hummers and Others

Besides growing flowers in the garden that hummingbirds love, you can also bring these glittery flying gems close to a window or porch with special feeders that contain sugar water. To make the solution, combine 1 part sugar with 4 parts water, stir and heat until the sugar is dissolved, then cool before filling feeders. Replace every couple of days or at least once a week, cleaning the feeders each time. Keep regular bird feeders filled with sunflower seeds, peanuts, millet, and nyger seed for the other birds.

Use Sun and Bug Protection

If you can't bear to wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants when working outdoors this summer, then definitely use at least an SPF 30 sunscreen. Always try to wear a brimmed hat, too. Although tests have shown the insect repellent DEET to be safe, for those still not convinced, there are a number of herbal insect repellents available. The most effective ones contain catnip oil.

Pick Blueberries

Get the pancake and muffin recipes ready because blueberries are starting to ripen. If you don't have blueberries growing in your yard, plan on adding some next year as they're easy to grow. The best way to beat the birds eating them is to cover the plants with netting. Otherwise, find a U-pick farm or farmer's market to buy blueberries fresh in bulk. To freeze, just wash and dry them, then pack in plastic freezer bags. Pull out a handful each morning to add important nutrients as well as flavor to your cereal.

Control Mildew and Other Fungal Diseases

Roses, phlox, squash, melons, and cucumbers are just some of the plants that are susceptible to mildew or other fungal diseases. Neem, a plant-based fungicide, is one choice for controlling these. Another is the Cornell Baking Soda Formula, made by combining 4 teaspoons baking soda, 2 tablespoons year-round horticultural oil, and 1 gallon of water. A variation is to combine 1-1/2 tablespoons baking soda with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1-1/2 tablespoons Safer Insecticidal Soap in 1 gallon of water, then stir in 1 tablespoon white vinegar.

Save Flower Seed

Flowers that readily self-sow, such as dame's rocket, money plant, love-in-a-mist, columbine, and poppies, can create a lovely cottage atmosphere or be a weeder's nightmare. Control where you have these flowers in your garden by cutting off the seed heads as they dry and collecting the seed. Toward the end of summer, these seeds can be sprinkled about the garden where you most want them. Or, save the seed until next spring, and start them in pots indoors for transplanting into the garden.

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