Coastal and Tropical South

June, 2011
Regional Report

Control Poison Ivy

The ample rains of last winter are being blamed for the spring's huge amounts of pollen and subsequent allergy problems. Now poison ivy is popping up everywhere and the wet winter is being blamed for that, too. Seek and destroy this native nasty plant now, before it climbs a tree or smothers the shrubs. New growth responds faster to herbicides than tough, old leaves and thick vines. Use glyphosate or an organic herbicide containing oil to top-kill the poison ivy, and then carefully hoe it out of the bed. If you are sensitive to its effects, get someone else to do this chore.

Patrol for Weeds

It may be hard to find time in a busy life, but to be a good gardener, it is essential to establish a rhythm of walking the garden every day. Very few pests and diseases can destroy a plant overnight, but left alone for 72 hours, they'll do serious damage. The same is true of garden weeds. Walk the garden daily with hoe in hand and cut their heads off as soon as they appear. Weeds grow fast and compete with your desirable plants for water and nutrients. Get rid of them!

Treat for Fleas

You and the pets need to stop itching and scratching and treat for fleas now. Even if you use products on the pets, our climate is perfect for their survival both indoors and outside. It's possible to miss the signs: a telltale itch around your ankles, odd scratching in your sleep, and the quick glance when you see one hop off the couch when Fido jumps down. Start the control process by mowing the lawn and cutting down any brushy weeds that could harbor fleas and other pests. Then treat the pets, your house and garden. Depending on the severity of the problem, a re-treatment may be needed in a month. Read and follow all label directions on pesticides.

Dethatch Lawns

Sometimes an older lawn feels spongy under your feet and perhaps loses its strong color despite ample water and fertilizer. That's the time to consider dethatching the lawn, and June is a good time to do it on the Southern Coasts. The big idea here is that by thinning the thatch, the lawn is rejuvenated. The process is aggressive and the result looks rather torn up, but soon new growth takes over to renew the lawn.

Expand the Harvest

Pick fresh vegetables and herbs daily for best taste and to keep them actively growing. When they are producing at their best, daily picking encourages more growth and so brings on another harvest soon. When veggies and herbs are not growing well, picking or at least pinching their tips will also stimulate new growth. One of the joys of growing your own edibles can be harvesting smaller eggplant, squash, and beans. And even zucchini is palatable when it is smaller than your arm, so pick early and often!

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