Upper South

May, 2012
Regional Report

Be Aware of and Beware the Heat

Even before summer had officially arrived, temperatures were in the 90s, which doesn%%%t bode well for what summer will be like. You can%%%t enjoy being in your garden if you get sick from the heat, so try to do your most active garden work in the early morning or evenings. Drink plenty of water while you%%%re working in the garden. Wear a hat and apply sunscreen. Moistening a large handkerchief with cold water and tying it around your neck will at least make you feel cooler. But don%%%t ignore warning signs of your body getting too hot.

Indulge in Raspberries

Raspberries, in their glorious colors of red, yellow, black, and purple, are now ripening. All of these are nutritional powerhouses, but recent research shows that the black raspberry tops the list. Whichever ones you grow or buy at a farmers market, they%%%re never better than when eaten fresh. Still, be sure to use some for jams, jellies, or simply frozen for use this winter. If you aren%%%t already growing your own, make plans to add some next year, as all the raspberries are easy to grow.

Harvest Garlic and Onions

Garlic is usually best harvested after three or so pairs of lower leaves turn brown. For onions and shallots, wait until most of the tops have died. Choose a time when the soil is dry. Don%%%t try to pull but rather dig each bulb, keeping a couple of inches away from the plant. Shake the loose soil from the roots and spread them out, preferably on a screen, in a dry, shady, well-ventiled location, such as a garage. After a few weeks, when the stems have lost all their moisture, you can store them.

Cool Off with Raw Vegetables

Vegetable gardens are starting to yield all of summer%%%s glorious bounty now. Take advantage of it and keep the kitchen cool at the same time by eating a lot of the vegetables raw, either as %%%sticks%%% with dips or as simply prepared salads, whether tossed with greens or made into slaws or marinated in an oil-and-vinegar mixture.

Watch Your Garden for Water Stress

In all but the smallest of gardens, there will be some areas that are more likely to dry out faster than others. It may be due to shade trees nearby, a different type of soil or some other reason. New plantings are particularly susceptible to periods of drought, so check them frequently. Watering to excess is both ecologically and monetarily unsound, but it also doesn%%%t make sense to lose your investment. The best time to water is either early morning or late afternoon.

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