Upper South

August, 2008
Regional Report

Water Thoughtfully

August and September are among the driest months, so even though rainfall and temperatures have been relatively normal this year, it pays to keep an eye on plantings now. Pay close attention to the trees, shrubs, and flowers planted earlier in the year, even if the soil was well-prepared and a thick layer of mulch was applied. Soaker hoses make the most efficient use of water resources. For individual plants, consider a bubbler hose-end attachment that slowly disperses the water. Whatever means of watering you use, be sure to water the soil deeply, which encourages roots to grow deeply, better preparing them for adverse conditions in the future.

Dry Herbs

Gathering and drying fragrant, flavorful herbs is one of the more pleasant chores of summer. The best time to gather them is in the morning as soon after the dew has dried as possible. Rinse them quickly and pat dry. Gather six stems or so into a bundle and hold them together with a rubber band. Hang them upside down in a hot, dry, dark spot. After they are thoroughly dry, gently remove the leaves and store in dark glass bottles. Another option is to strip the leaves off before drying, spread them out on baking sheets, and dry in an oven set to the lowest setting. Those with a food dehydrator will find that these appliances work perfectly for herbs.

Enjoy Asian Pears

Asian pears are beginning to ripen so if you aren't growing your own, look for them at farmers' markets. Asian pears are expensive at groceries because they bruise easily, but they are one of the best fruit trees for the home gardener. Usually round rather than the typical pear shape, Asian pears have crisp, juicy, sweet-tart flesh. They store well, often keeping three months or more in the refrigerator.

Seed Cool-Season Vegetables

The best time to either repair or re-establish lawns from seed is late summer to early fall. Germination is much faster when the soil is warmest. A lawn with only a few damaged patches, totaling less than 30 percent of the area, will need only simple repairs. It's important to determine the cause of the damage, so repeated repairs won't be needed. If more than 50 to 70 percent of a lawn is damaged, it will need to be fully renovated. Whichever you need, choose a high-quality grass seed mixture that is appropriate for your site, be it sun or shade, high-traffic area or not.

Install a Path or Patio

Late summer and fall are good times to consider landscaping projects, rather than in the spring when so much of the focus is on plants. A new brick or stone path or patio is a relatively easy addition, especially with the widespread availability of different kinds of pavers. Use a shovel to carve out the area to be paved to a depth of the paver plus 3 inches or so. Fill with a 3-inch base of sand and tamp down. Fit the paving material into place. Use a polymeric sand to fill in between the spaces, following manufacturer's directions.

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