Upper South

June, 2011
Regional Report

Get More from Roses

As the first round of blooms ends on repeat-blooming roses, it's time to apply a second feeding in order to keep the bushes producing abundant flowers. Plus, a healthy, well-fed plant is better able to resist attacks of pests and diseases. The newer types of shrub roses are self-cleaning, but the more traditional hybrid teas, floribundas, and grandifloras should have the faded flowers removed back to a five-leaflet leaf and outward facing bud.

Give Chard a Chance

A close relative of beets, chard is both praised and accused of having an earthy taste. As it is a vegetable that is easily grown for many months of the year and used at any stage, from baby salad green to long-cooked soups when mature, chard deserves a place in both garden and kitchen. Use lemon juice and olive oil as a dressing for quickly cooked leaves and stalks, adding some fresh chopped parsley to tame the mineral flavors. To turn chard into a luxurious dish, use a mature Cheddar in a gratin, adding a bit of mustard and nutmeg.

Win the Battle of the Squash Bug

Gardeners usually consider both summer and winter squash as highly productive plants, but squash bugs can quickly wipe out a crop. One way to win the battle is to delay planting squash until early summer, as there are more natural predators of squash bugs as summer advances. Other cultural methods to limit squash bug damage are growing under row covers and hand picking the bugs. Check the undersides of leaves for egg clusters, scrape off and destroy, or use a neem spray.

Clean and Fill Birdbaths

Birds welcome having access to water in birdbaths for both drinking and bathing. During dry periods, make sure you keep them filled. Equally important is keeping the birdbaths clean. If algae or caked-on scum on the bottom becomes a problem, scrub the birdbath with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water. Floating some lavender stems will help keep the water fresher longer.

Protect Yourself from Heat

With soaring temperatures, it's important for gardeners to stay safe and healthy by minimizing exposure to the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; using a sunscreen with SPF15 or higher sunscreen on exposed areas and applying every two hours; wearing a wide-brimmed hat and tightly woven, full-length clothing; and using sunglasses with UV-protection.

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