Lower South

August, 2008
Regional Report

Prevent Squash Viruses

Viruses can be epidemic in squash this time of year. Try laying down two wide strips of aluminum foil side by side around new seedlings and securing them with bent sections of coat hanger wire. You can also lay down foil first and then cut a hole in the center for planting. This reflective material repels insects that carry virus diseases.

Start Cool-Season Transplants

Start seedlings of cool-season veggies and flowers indoors now for a jump on the season. In six to eight weeks they will be ready to transplant out into the garden when the weather turns a little more hospitable. Wait a few more weeks to start lettuce and spinach transplants. They reach transplant age faster and need to go out into the garden a bit later, too.

Trim Back Roses for Better Fall Bloom

Cut back repeat-blooming rose bushes by about a third in mid to late August. They will regrow and really put on a show in October. Keep foliage healthy so the bush can put all its energy into setting blooms for this fall. Black spot, powdery mildew, aphids, and mites can burden a rosebush and reduce fall blooming if left unchecked in the summer.

Rejuvenate Heat-Stressed Summer Flowers

Petunias, geraniums, begonias, and other summer flowers that have become a little ragged over the last few months of heat and drought can be rejuvenated now for a great rerun in the fall season. Lightly prune them back and give them a dose of fertilizer followed by a good watering. They'll reward you with another couple months of super blooms.

Stop Fertilizing Tender Ornamentals

Woody ornamentals that are only marginally hardy in your area, especially semi-tender ones like fig trees, need time to slow growth and prepare for winter. Extra nitrogen and luxuriant watering can promote late flushes of growth, which are prone to cold injury. Marginally hardy plants need to have plenty of time to slow growth and prepare for winter.

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