Coastal and Tropical South

August, 2010
Regional Report

Trained tomatoes

It is important to keep those young 'mater plants away from soil borne fungi and slugs. Late blight, for example, splashes up onto plants from the soil and can devastate your plants. As they grow, trellising allows the good air circulation important to pollination. Use a stake and long, soft pantyhose or cotton ties, install cages, or set up fence posts strung with plastic coated clothesline wire, but get them up off the ground right away.

Spinach now

It's time to soak those spinach seeds for a few hours or overnight in warm water. Use a hoe to open a row in that garden bed you limed last month. (Remember?) Drop the seeds in at 1 inch intervals and cover with half an inch of soil. Tamp lightly and keep watered. If conditions are very dry, lay a board on top of the seeded area to keep it moist. Check it daily and remove as soon as the spinach sprouts.

Lawn care

If your lawn hasn't been "up to snuff" lately, take action now. Fertilize with a formula made for use at this time of year on your particular kind of lawngrass, and use a spreader to apply it to the lawn. Look for "winterizer" or "fall feeding" lawn foods and use as directed, especially in the southern coasts region. Read all labels carefully to avoid adding excess nitrogen to the soil, even in the tropics region. Too much nitrogen benefits lawn fungus diseases more than the turf grass.

Just a pinch

Some plants just shouldn't bloom, particularly those that we grow for their leaves. Annual flowers age naturally, form seeds, then die, completing the plant's life cycle. Annuals such as basil will soon lose their vigor if allowed to bloom, so pinch the tiny flowers out of the top of each stem. Take the flower or bud and one or two sets of leaves off each time they appear. Use your thumb and middle finger or a small scissors to make the "pinch".

School gardens

Looking for a good classroom project? Recycle 2 liter plastic bottles into planters. Cut off the bottom third of the bottle and punch holes in the sides near the bottom. Fill with potting soil and plant overwintering annuals like cornflowers and calendula. If seeding, thin to 2 or 3 plants per pot. Explore hydroponics in the classroom with simple setups to grow a box full of lettuce for a teachers' salad by Thanksgiving.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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