Upper South

August, 2007
Regional Report

Plant Autumn Crocuses and Colchicums

For added texture and color among your flower beds this fall, consider planting autumn-blooming crocuses and colchicums. Of the crocuses, Crocus kotschyanus is one of the best choices, with its large, pale lilac flowers and ability to naturalize. The saffron crocus (C. sativus) is also a good choice. Plant the bulbs 3 to 4 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart.

There are a number of species and cultivars of colchicum, with most having 6-inch-tall, pale pink, white, or violet-colored flowers. Plant them 4 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart.

Keep an Eye on Newly Planted Trees and Shrubs

The intense heat and drought conditions means it's especially important to pay attention to trees and shrubs planted earlier this year. Remove weeds and grass from around their bases and put an organic mulch around them. The mulched area should be at least 4 inches deep and 3 feet in diameter. Water deeply and thoroughly once a week. One effective way to water individual plants is to use a bubbler attachment on a hose. For an entire bed or border, consider using a soaker hose.

Eat Watermelon

Satisfy your sweet tooth, quench your thirst, and get great nutrition all in one with the quintessential summer treat -- watermelon. Containing large amounts of the antioxidant lycopene, watermelon has also been found by Agricultural Research Service scientists to be an excellent source of the amino acid citrulline, which is not common in many other foods but is important for wound healing, cell division, and removal of certain toxins from the body.

Destroy Dodder

Ever noticed strange-looking, golden, leafless "strings" twining among your plants? The culprit is a parasite called dodder. Totally without chlorophyll, dodder extracts carbohydrates from the host plant. Dodder seldom kills host plants, but it can diminish their growth. This annual weed spreads by seeds, so try to remove stems before seed sets. If seeds are present, very carefully remove both the dodder and the host plant to keep the seeds from scattering. Apply a preemergent herbicide, such as corn gluten, around plants where dodder has been growing.

Have a Party

For gardeners, it may seem difficult to find time to relax during the summer months, but there are ways to share your passion and have fun, too. Know someone who has moved into a new home? Help organize a garden-warming party, providing plants, seeds, tools, equipment, and supplies. Or, have a preserving party, with guests making pickles, preserves, or other canned food. Between the produce from participants' gardens and farmers' markets, there should be plenty of take-home treats. Of course, there's nothing wrong with simply inviting a few friends over for a cookout, with everyone admiring your hard work in the garden.

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