Middle South

July, 2010
Regional Report

Tolerate Worthwhile Weeds

Many weeds attract beneficial insects to the garden, including some critters that are quite beautiful. For example, various butterfly larvae feed on clovers, milkweed, nettle, Queen Anne's lace, common sorrel and butterfly weed. If you can, allow a patch of weeds to flourish somewhere in your garden. If neighbors complain, proudly tell them it's a butterfly garden or a wildflower meadow.

Encourage Lightning Bugs

Do you know that the larvae of lightning bugs, called glowworms, go after snails and slugs? They find the destructive pests by following their slime trails and then inject them with poison. To keep lightning bugs and glowworms in the garden, turn off all unnecessary outdoor lighting. When artificial lights levels are very bright, some species won't flash, and those that do may not be able to see the phosphorescent glow of their mates.

Go Gray for Color Harmony

If you specialize in garden beds that are a jarring mix of brilliant colors, perhaps it's time to go gray. Foliage plants with gray or silver leaves have an amazing ability to harmonize even the most unlikely bed mates. Plants that are most likely to do the trick include santolina, nepeta, rose campion, lamb's ears, dusty miller, horehound, Russian sage, southernwood, and wormwood.

Harvest Early for Preemie Vegetables

Upscale restaurants have set a trend for micro greens and miniature vegetables. Most of these babies are real preemies- that is, conventional varieties that are picked early. If you want to grow some tiny tots at home, the process is easy. Reduce the recommended spacing so you have more plants, then check daily to monitor size.

Be Alert for Azalea Lace Bugs

Keep an eye out for azalea lace bugs, as the second generation of these critters usually appear in late July to September. Both adults and nymphs suck sap from the undersides of the leaves, causing stippling or blanching on the upper leaf surface. Yellowing and leaf drop may signal severe infestation. When treatment is called for, make three applications of insecticidal soap at three- to four-day intervals, always spraying the undersides of the leaves for complete coverage.

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