Middle South

May, 2009
Regional Report

Attract Birds With Dripping Water

For a fail-safe method to attract birds to your garden, make a small hole in a plastic milk jug, fill the jug with water, hang it from a tree, and place a large ceramic saucer or a birdbath underneath. A slow drop, every 8 to 10 seconds, is very effective. Use a sewing needle to make a very small hole, barely pushing the tip through the plastic. The jug will take about two days to empty.

Grow Annuals in Dry Shade

The large oak trees in my woodland garden keep the soil dry, making it difficult to grow summer annuals, especially those that require constant moisture such as impatiens. To keep tree roots at bay, I cut large plastic nursery liners to an adequate height, bury them in the soil up to their rims, fill them with potting soil, and plant the flowers of my choice. When using this method, I water and fertilize as I would any container garden.

Pick and Dry Herbs

Late spring is the perfect time to pick and dry many herbs, including thyme, tarragon, and oregano. Long-stemmed herbs can be collected, tied with a rubber band, and hung in a warm, dry room with little exposure to sunlight. Smaller stems can be dried on a screen or tray. Then, store the herbs in glass or plastic containers, placing them in a cool, dark location.

Select Flowers That Beat the Heat

While you still have room in garden beds, look for flowers that can take the heat of summer, and once established, will tolerate a short stretch of dry weather without irrigation. My favorites include cosmos, coneflower, lantana, pentas, mandevilla, vinca, canna, cleome, and zinnia.

Remove Tomato Suckers

For larger fruits, pinch out the suckers on tomato plants. Suckers are shoots that grow between the main stem and a branch. They will not harm the plant, but when left to grow the suckers will become branches that produce more flowers and fruit. The resulting plant will produce many small tomatoes, but few large ones.

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