Upper South

August, 2009
Regional Report

Evict Moles in Low-Tech Ways

Moles are one of the gardener's banes, even though they do consume great quantities of grubs. Unfortunately, they also eat earthworms, to say nothing of making unsightly burrows in lawns and flower beds. Although there are a number of traps and chemicals available for control, many people have found that continually tramping on the bulging burrows often persuades moles to find easier digs. Another old-fashioned trick to partially bury open bottles in the tunnel, with the bottle tops slanted toward the prevailing wind, which causes a whistling sound.

Plant Foxtail Lilies

Add some drama to your garden with foxtail lilies, also known as spire lilies or desert candles. Of the genus Eremurus, foxtail lilies bloom from late spring into summer with 2- to 4-foot spires of tiny flowers in shades of white, pink, yellow, or orange. The rhizomes are best planted in early fall. Choose a spot with full sun, very good drainage, and fairly poor soil. Set the crown of the rhizome 2 to 3 inches below the soil surface, with the roots spread out horizontally, placing sand below and around them. Mulch with evergreen boughs.

Preserve Tomatoes

Not only are tomatoes the most popular vegetable eaten fresh, but also the favorite for home preserving. The traditional method is canning. For a little extra flavor, add a peeled garlic clove and a sprig of basil to each jar. Be sure to make some salsa, too. For ease, though, try freezing tomatoes, either whole or as sauce. Drying is another possibility, especially when using a dehydrator. Or, cut plum tomatoes in half and toss with olive oil, salt, herbs, and garlic, then slowly roast for 4 hours or so in an oven set to 225 degrees F.

Stake Floppy Perennials

Many of the late summer and fall-blooming perennials, such as boltonia, chrysanthemum, aster, and Japanese anemones, can grow quite tall and become floppy. If you didn't insert support earlier in the season, it's still possible to keep them upright now. For instance, place stakes around the base of the plant, then run string between them. Or, run string around the plant and tie to a post or stake placed at the back.

Harvest Fruit

Apples and pears are ripening now. Pick apples when they have appropriate color for the variety. Check every couple of days and taste to find out when they're at their best. Pick pears when the flesh gives slightly when pressed near the stem end. When fruit falls on the ground, pick it up immediately. If still good, eat or preserve. If rotting, add to the compost pile. Never leave it on the ground, as it will attract wasps and increase disease in future years on the tree.

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