Middle South

July, 2008
Regional Report

Divide Bearded Iris

It's best to divide bearded iris every few years. This will help prevent pests, such as soft rot and borers, from building up in the rhizomes, and it will keep plants blooming at their best. Cut the foliage back to 8 inches. Then dig up the rhizomes and discard any sections with soft spots or holes. Cut the remaining rhizomes into pieces starting at the end, making sure each piece has some roots and at least one leaf fan. Replant the pieces so the rhizome sits at the soil level. Discard the old center portion.

Sow Fall Beans

Plant a quick crop of snap beans for a fall harvest. Think ahead to potential early cold snaps and consider what you'll use to cover the plants. If it's a queen-sized sheet, plant the beans in that shape. If it's long row covers, plant them in rows to fit.

Harvest Okra

Harvest okra pods when they're about 4 inches long and still tender. Frequent harvesting stimulates the plants to produce more pods and keeps the harvest going into the fall. Wear gloves while harvesting to avoid getting stuck by the spines on the plant.

Dry Herbs

Gather sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, and any other herb you'd like to dry. Allow any surface moisture to dry, then bundle the herbs and hang upside down to dry. Wrap newspaper or a paper bag around the bunch to keep the dust off. If weather is very humid, you may need to finish off the drying in a barely warm oven. Then store dried herbs in airtight containers. Consider making custom dried herb mixes to give as gifts.

Plant Cukes

There's still time to plant cucumbers for an early fall harvest. Get them off to a good start and protect them from squash bugs and cucumber beetles by starting plants indoors. Transplant them to the garden when they have one true leaf. Keep the plants watered.

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