Lower South

August, 2009
Regional Report

Avoid Squash Viruses

Viruses can be epidemic in squash this time of year. Try laying down 2 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. The reflective mulch repels insects that bring in the virus diseases.

Start Seedlings of Cole Crops Indoors

Grow your own transplants of broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, and other cole crops by starting seeds indoors now. Once the seeds germinate move them to a bright shady outdoors location and gradually into some morning sun. They'll be ready to transplant into the garden in mid to late September for a jump start on the season.

Plant Fall Potatoes

Mid to late August is the time to plant potatoes in the south for a fall crop. If we wait much longer they won't have time to develop tubers before the first fall frost shuts them down. When possible select small whole potatoes for planting as cut pieces may tend to rot in the hot soil, even if allowed to dry before planting.

Rejuvenate Summer-Blooming Shrubs

To keep chaste tree (Vitex spp.), butterfly bush (Buddleja spp.) and crape myrtle blooming well, trim back spent blooms to prevent the plant from expending energy on seed production. The first two shrubs can get rather loose and unattractive following a good bloom cycle. Trim them back by a third and then provide a little water and fertilizer to stimulate regrowth and another attractive bloom cycle.

Give Roses a Late Summer Pruning

Give your repeat blooming roses a light shearing in mid to late August. Then fertilize them lightly and keep them well watered. This late summer pruning will encourage some vigorous new growth setting the stage for a great fall flower show.

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