Middle South

June, 2011
Regional Report

Protect Nesting Sites

When it's time to cut back vigorous climbers, such as Confederate jasmine and Carolina jessamine, remember vines are ideal nesting sites for many song birds and that some species nest multiple times in a single growing season. Before hacking away, check for nests first, and delay pruning if you find nests with eggs or chicks. A short delay may be all that is necessary, as most baby birds fledge within two to three weeks.

Shield New Plants from Sun

In times of extreme heat, new plants that have yet to establish a good root system may need relief from the sun. Use netting or cheesecloth, cut to the right length and secured to bamboo stakes, to provide temporary shade. When the weather breaks, these handy sun shields roll up for easy storage.

Try Vertical Planting for Space-Hogging Crops

Instead of sacrificing large plots of space to grow cucumbers, gourds, and small melons and pumpkins, try growing vining crops on a trellis of sturdy wire mesh supported by rebar posts. In addition to carving out extra space for plants, the climbers will benefit from good airflow, which will help keep diseases at bay when humidity soars.

Simplify Crop Irrigation

For an easy method of irrigating vegetable crops without wetting their foliage, bury a series of gallon-size nursery pots in the garden, leaving about 3-inches of the pot's rim above the natural soil level. Holes in pot bottom's will put water right at root level. For an extra boost, add a scoop of composted manure to the pot for an application of manure "tea."

Boost Calcium with Herbs

If you struggle with calcium intake,Know that many herbs are an excellent source of this vital mineral. The list includes sage, parsley, borage, dandelion, chickweed, and red clover flowers, to name just a few. For double benefit, substitute herb tea for soft drinks and coffee, which deplete calcium from the body.

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