Middle South

July, 2009
Regional Report

Pinch Back Herbs

Delay flower and seed production and keep leafy herbs growing vigorously by harvesting the growing tips of basil, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, and lemon balm. Pinching back will create bushier plants and preserve flavor and aroma. When allowed to bloom and produce seed, leafy herbs loose their flavor and become tough.

Step Up Irrigation

As the days become hotter and drier in late summer, add drip irrigation hoses to vegetable and flower beds, reducing the time you spend holding a hose but increasing available moisture. Whenever possible, cover the hoses with mulch to reduce evaporation and protect the hoses from harsh sunlight.

Plant Pumpkins

Grow your own pumpkins for Halloween by planting seeds now, directly in the garden or indoors in pots. Seedlings started in pots will be ready to plant in a couple of weeks. To ensure seed germination in the garden, spread a layer of compost in a furrow and water well. Add seeds to the wet bed, cover with 2 inches of dry soil and top with a board. After 5 days, remove the board and the seedlings will pop right up.

Rest Annuals

Some annuals, such as petunias and geraniums, go dormant when the heat cranks up in late summer. Instead of encouraging these plants to grow, cut them back to about half their size and let them rest for several weeks. When the weather begins to break in early September, fertilize weakly weekly, then reap the rewards of fresh flowers through autumn.

Make a Mixed Bouquet

Create a summer bouquet from the garden by cutting flowers early in the morning when their moisture content is highest. Select blooms that are half open and place them in a pail of warm water. Let flowers rest in a cool location for several hours. Then, cut stems at an angle to the desired length, strip leaves that would be submerged, and arrange in a water-filled vase spiked with a commercial floral preservative (or in a pinch, a splash of lemon-lime soda).

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