Middle South

June, 2011
Regional Report

Wait to Apply Pesticides

Be cautious with pesticides as the summer heats up. High temperatures are stressful to plants, making them especially vulnerable, and some pesticides have ingredients that are phototoxic. In other words, coated leaves may burn when sun shines on them. When pesticide use can't be avoided, hold off on application until early evening. You'll do a better job of targeting your pest too, as many pollinators, such as bees, will already have left the garden.

Welcome Toads

Contrary to folklore, toads do not cause warts or embody evil spirits. In fact, toads are one of the gardener's best allies, capable of eating as much as three times their weight in insects and slugs each day. Some of their favorite treats include Japanese beetles, cucumber beetles, grasshoppers, earwigs, and cut worms. To make your garden more hospitable, add a small pond to the landscape, or keep an overturned pot or two where toads can shelter in cool darkness during the heat of the day.

Maintain Container Gardens

Container plantings can be valuable accents in the garden, but they take more maintenance than plants grown in beds and borders. In addition to daily watering, fertilize plants every six to eight weeks and deadhead regularly. Large plants and those that tend to become straggly may need occasional pruning. Keep an eye out for insects and diseases too, as the close quarters means small problems can multiply in a short period of time.

Distract Rabbits

Once rabbits have found your vegetable garden and made themselves at home, it can be difficult to deter these persistent pests. If a fence is possible, make a barrier with galvanized chicken wire that is at least 3-feet tall, burying 1 foot below the soil and angling the bottom 6 inches outward to prevent tunneling. Then, distract the critters with a few delicacies planted outside the fence, economically grown with extra or out-of-date seeds.

Make Flavored Butter

Plan now for a winter of fresh-garden taste by making flavored butters. Simply bring butter to room temperature and add a combination of minced herbs, peppers, garlic, or onion to suit your taste. Freeze the flavored butters in small plastic containers or ice cube trays, then for easier access and storage, place in zip-lock bags.

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