Lower South

May, 2012
Regional Report

Plant Flowering Purslane and Moss Rose

Flowering purslane and moss rose are great succulent flowering plants that thrive in the summer heat. While they are drought tolerant, they perform best with periodic watering to prevent drought stress. These low growing plants work great as a groundcover in sunny areas or in a hanging basket or other container.

Check for Stink Bugs on Tomatoes

The southern stink bug and the leaf-footed bug love your tomatoes as much as you do. Their puncturing mouthparts cause hard white to yellowish spots on the fruit, so that enough damage can ruin it for our culinary enjoyment. Check plants for early signs of their presence such as small clusters of eggs that are shaped like a group of wine barrels, or the young wingless nymphs. Early detection enables early treatment and less damage to the crop.

Set Out Sweet Potato Slips

Sweet potatoes are planted from short sections of the vines, known as "slips." These are available in local garden centers or by mail order. Stick the base of the slips 4-6 inches deep into the soil, leaving the tops sticking out. Then water daily for a week or so to maintain them as they develop roots. Choose a sunny spot and a location with sandy or loamy soil. Adding several inches of compost can help make a heavier soil more suitable for sweet potato growing.

Pick Strawberries Prior to a Rain

Strawberry fruit will start to rot quickly if rain has left droplets of water on the fruit surface. Harvest all fruit at the ripe stage just prior to a rain and promptly put it in the refrigerator to cool it down to extend its storage time. Avoid overhead sprinkler irrigation on strawberries whenever possible or harvest prior to each irrigation cycle.

Plant Cantaloupes and Watermelons

Watermelons, muskmelons (which are often mistakenly called cantaloupes), true cantaloupes, and other summer melons can be seeded out into the garden now. These fruit do well in the warm temperatures if provided adequate water to keep them from experiencing drought conditions. Plant 3-5 seeds in grouping about a foot wide and thin to 3 plants after the first true leaves appear.

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