Upper South

July, 2010
Regional Report

Make Berry Vinegar

Berries are wonderful in desserts, but they also add great flavor to vinegars. Berry vinegars brighten salads and make wonderful gifts, too. To make, place 3 cups clean, dry raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries in a large glass or ceramic bowl. In a saucepan, heat 4 cups white wine vinegar and one-half cup sugar, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the berries, cover, and let sit for two days. Strain and pour into bottles. Store in a cool, dark place.

Plant Fall Crops

Throughout the month of August, you can sow seeds and set transplants of cool-season crops like turnips, kale, radishes, collards, spinach, arugula, lettuce, beets, cabbage, and broccoli. Be sure to keep the area where they are planted well watered to encourage germination and good growth. Adding shade cloth will be beneficial if the weather is particularly hot. Plan on providing row covers to protect from light frosts later.

Monitor for Pests

At least once a week, walk around your garden to check for pests. Invest in a hand lens and a pest identification handbook so that you can properly identify pests before taking any action. Remember that some insects are "good guys." Don't rush in with chemicals, even organic ones, if the damage seems to be minimal. Many pests can be controlled with handpicking and destroying eggs.

Water As Necessary

Although well-prepared soil and an organic mulch will limit the need for supplementary watering, if there is not a soaking rain each week, extra water may be necessary to keep plants healthy and thriving. Drip irrigation is the most efficient way to water, but, lacking that, target water applications to the root zone, keeping foliage dry to prevent foliar diseases and to use water wisely. Use collected rainwater from a barrel whenever possible.

Share Produce

At the height of the summer vegetable garden, many plants need harvesting at least every other day in order for the plants keep producing. This abundance can become overwhelming. Find a local food bank or soup kitchen that takes homegrown vegetables. And don't forget friends, neighbors, or other people who might welcome the bounty. Just remember to ask first and only offer a reasonable amount.

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