Upper South

July, 2011
Regional Report

Get Fired Up Over Grilled Vegetables

Grilled vegetables are a great addition to or even the focus of summer outdoor meals. They also make wonderful leftovers that can be added to salads, sandwiches, omelets, or just reheated and served with a cooked grain or rice. For softer vegetables, like zucchini, eggplant, or peppers, slice and toss or brush with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat for three to five minutes per side. Harder vegetables, like potatoes or carrots, may take a few minutes longer, depending on how thinly they are sliced.

Harvest and Use Herbs Regularly

Most of the heat-loving herbs are flourishing now, so use them daily. Include herbs in all types of salads and vinaigrettes. Make pesto for using now and freeze some for enjoying this winter. Add minced herbs to lightly steamed vegetables fresh from the garden. Make a sugar syrup flavored with herbs for serving with fresh fruit for dessert. You can also start harvesting and drying herbs from now until frost. For fresh use, pick herbs anytime during the day, but for drying, it's best to harvest from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Begin Planting Fall Crops

Even though we're in the dog days of summer, it's time to start planting the fall vegetables. Start with the crops that are more tolerant of the heat, such as beets and turnips, then during each week of August, add the crops that do better with cooler weather as they mature, such as arugula and other greens. For best germination, keep the soil evenly moist until the seeds sprout. To extend the season this fall, plan for a way to protect the crops, such as with low, covered tunnels or the frost-protecting fabrics.

Increase Your Shrubs

Want to increase the number of shrubs in your garden? Now is the time to take what are called semi-hardwood cuttings, that is, this year's growth that has begun to mature. Take cuttings six to eight inches long and remove the lower leaves. Dip the base into rooting hormone powder, then insert into pots of moistened seed-starting soil mix. Place a plastic bag over the pot, making sure it doesn't touch the cuttings. Place in bright, indirect light, either indoors or out. Keep the soil moist and cuttings should root in four to six weeks, when they can be repotted and overwintered for planting into the garden next spring.

Make Berry Vinegar

Berry vinegars are a great ingredient for making luscious vinaigrette salad dressings or marinades. Wash and dry 3 cups of raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries. Place in a large glass bowl. In a saucepan, combine 4 cups of white wine vinegar and sugar, heating and stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the vinegar mixture over the berries, cover, and let sit for two days. Strain into glass bottles.

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