Middle South

May, 2012
Regional Report

Entice Birds to the Vegetable Garden

If your vegetable garden lacks bean poles, teepees, or other tall supports, add a pole with a wooden crosspiece to attract insect-eating birds. The pole will work best if it stands 6 to 8 feet tall. The crosspiece can be made from any scrap of lumber, but a bird's tiny feet will most easily grasp a round dowel secured through a drill hole.

Depend on Million Bells

If you want a hard-working flower that will produce hundreds of small blooms in a season, you can depend on Million Bells. This Calibrachoa hybrid , a Brazilian relative of the petunia, loves the heat and will bloom for an exceptionally long time. When flowers fade, they dry up before falling from the plant and are whisked away by the wind, unlike the soggy blooms of large-flowered petunias, that often create a mess on decks and porches.

Cultivate at Dusk

Believe it or not, you'll have significantly fewer weeds if you cultivate your garden at the end of the day when sunlight is fading. Why? The sudden exposure to light acts as a stimulus that causes many weed seeds to sprout. Turning over the soil at dusk reduces the rate of germination.

Recycle Lamp Shades

Never throw away an old lamp shade. Stripped of fabric and turned upside down, the frames make an ideal plant support for peonies or other herbaceous plants that need help to stand upright. A quick spray of green paint will make them less noticeable.

Stagger Pepper Harvest

Picking some bell peppers when green has a number of benefits. Picking early will sweeten the ones that remain on the plant and encourage a second flush of fruit. Even the ones left unharvested should be picked when they are just 50 to 75 percent colored, as brightly hued peppers are sure to attract a pest, such as an insect, bird, or squirrel.

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