Middle South

April, 2012
Regional Report

Position Vegetables for Sun

Typically, vegetable plants get the most sun if grown in rows that are oriented east to west, so one row never shades the next. When full sun isn't available, however, choose morning light over afternoon, to jumpstart the plant's metabolism.

Hand Pollinate Cucumbers

You can increase the yield of cucumbers by taking matters into your own hands, transferring the pollen from male to female flowers. To determine their sex, check the base of the blooms; the female will have a small cuke-shaped swelling behind its petals, but the male will not. To hand pollinate, simply pick a male flower and rub its anthers over the stigma of the female bloom.

Grow a Mild Jalapeno

If you want good flavor but less mouth-scorching heat in a jalapeno, select 'Numex Primavera' or 'TAM Mild Jalapeno', cultivars with one-tenth the pungency of a standard jalapeno. Both cultivars originated deep in chili country; the former got its start in 1997 at the Chili Pepper Institute of New Mexico State University, while the latter is a recent introduction from Texas A&M.

Trap Squash Vine Borer

A friend of mine swears by a homemade trap for squash vine borer, which catches the moth (Melittia cucurbitae) that lays eggs at the base of the plant's leaf stalks. To make the trap, cut a fist-sized hole near the top of a gallon milk jug, and then add a quart of water mixed with three tablespoons of molasses and a bit of vinegar. Set the jug in the garden as soon as the squash plants begin to bloom to attract the moth. Clean and reset traps each day.

Cut Back Sage

Encourage new growth on sage that overwintered in the garden by cutting it back as soon as new growth begins. Prune hard, leaving one pair of healthy green leaves on each stem, for a flush of new shoots.

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