Coastal and Tropical South

September, 2008
Regional Report

Seeding Greens

Often the biggest challenge to growing mustard greens, endive, and mesclun lettuce mixes is space. Solid carpets of these tender salad greens choke each other out and none wins the competition for water and nutrients, not to mention air. Indeed, the fungus that causes damping off can rip through a crowded seedbed in a day, whereas it may not even get started in a well-spaced planting. Fill a salt shaker with sand and seeds, then shake onto the soil. The sand makes it easier to see where the seed falls so you can stop before overplanting. Once seeds are up and growing, thin to about 4 inches apart.

Try Kohlrabi

In this country, kohlrabi must be the least popular member of the cabbage family, despite its good taste and ease of growing. The plants look like cartoon vegetables, squat and stout like a little teapot, but they're not just grown to be cute, they're tasty. The plants are not universally available, but seeds can be started now.

Slow the Spread of Ragweed

Recent research reveals a bad habit of European earthworms, which replaced the native species in North America during the last Ice Age. Seems that as they burrow, the worms gather seeds of ragweed -- the common allergy-causing plant -- in the folds of their skin and plant them as they go. The ragweed sprouts in many fields from the burrows of earthworms. If you have a stand of the sneezeweed, might be a good idea to mow it down more regularly and remove the debris. That dries out the burrows and can help slow the plant's spread.

Weed When Soil is Too Damp To Dig

When soil is saturated with water, don't work it at all. Conditions are too wet if you pull up an oak seedling and the soil attached to the acorn below is as big as your thumb. But take advantage of damp conditions to do some weeding. A light coating of damp dirt can be knocked off the roots, and some moisture helps keep the roots from tearing as you pull.

Maintain Bird Feeders

The fall migration brings many bird species through our region and feeding them builds their energy reserves for flight. Seed eaters appreciate platform and box feeders, but it's important to keep feeders dry and freshly filled. After it rains, take the feeders down, empty, rinse out plastic models, dry thoroughly, and refill them.

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