Middle South

August, 2011
Regional Report

Take Shortcut to New Garden Bed

Late summer is the perfect time to start a new garden bed for spring planting. For a quick and easy head start, build a compost bin with rebar and chicken wire right where you plan to locate the new bed, and then use the temporary bin to process fall leaves, remnants of the current garden, and other organic matter. By spring, much of the material will be ready to use. Relocate any unfinished material with the bin to a new spot, as these tidbits will be loaded with the hungry microorganisms that will go to immediate work on the next pile.

Reduce Weeds

Did you know some weed seeds require light in order to germinate? In fact there's evidence that tilling or turning the soil in your garden bed at the end of the day, rather than earlier, may significantly reduce weed seed germination. Just a few hours of exposure to air, without light, can make these seeds unproductive.

Leave Queen Anne's Lace

While there are many weeds you'll want to eliminate from your garden, Queen Anne's lace is worth growing in some situations because it attracts beneficial pollinators and is a larval food for swallowtail butterflies. Be aware, however, that it can carry a disease that harms carrots, asters, and mums, so limit its range to areas where it can do no harm.

Increase Your Lettuce Crop

Grow extra lettuce in a plot by choosing varieties that form a rosette of small leaves that can be harvested early. When planting, space seeds twice as close together as directions indicate, and later harvest every other plant at "baby size," leaving the others to grow to maturity.

Overwinter Lemon Verbena

If lemon verbena is a favorite herb, try moving it indoors at the end of the season to grow as a houseplant. Cut the verbena back to 15-inches tall and wide, then dig the plant and trim the roots before settling it into a clay pot. Once inside, place the pot near a sunny window or under a grow light. Don't panic if the plant drops its foliage; keep watering and it should sprout new, tasty leaves within two weeks.

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