Coastal and Tropical South

August, 2012
Regional Report

Plant Beans in the Tropics

The Leo Kottke tune called Bean Time plays on a loop in my head this month. Each week in August there's a sdifferent kind of bean to plant. Hoist the trellis or bean pole structures to plant pole lima beans such as Carolina Sieva and Florida Speckled first. Follow them with Henderson lima beans, pole snap beans like Dade, and finally bush green beans including Contender and Derby. It is time for Southern peas, too, like Purple Hull and Lady Peas.

Plant Now For Fall Harvest on the Coasts

This month is the time to catch up on spring garden favorites and to begin the seasonal transition to fall vegetables. Make room for summer squash and bush cucumbers from seed, whole Irish seed potatoes and the first seeding of mustard and turnip greens. If you have never grown beets, now is the time to be surprised how good they taste when you cook them fresh. Lime a spot in the garden now to plant spinach next month.

Keep Your Hummingbirds Coming

Bring pots of fall flowers onto the deck and patio for a front row seat to the fall hummingbird migration. Plant more tubular flowers, preferably red, but any bright shade works just fine. Add to your hibiscus collection, all in the name of nurturing hummers. If someone gave you a hummingbird feeder this year, put it to good use by placing it in easy view. Hang the feeder well above the ground, close to a window where you can watch the action. Mixes vary, but the only necessary ingredients are water and sugar, no red dye needed or wanted. Refill the feeder every other day, and clean it weekly in hot soapy water, then rinse well and refill.

Refresh and Replant Flowers

While you are planting for hummingbirds, remember the butterflies and plant daisy shapes now. The periwinkles, zinnias, and impatiens you planted this spring may need rejuvenating now. Cut off the old flowers, and cut the stems back, too, if they are leafless or spotted. Water in new plants and rehabs with fertilizer, put on an inch of new mulch, and look for new flowers in three weeks.

Save Seeds

Generally, you leave seed pods on the plant until they are dry before harvesting them. In rainy summers, though, that can lead to moldy seeds. If rain is predicted at a critical time, use a twist tie to anchor little plastic bags around the heads. Remove the bags when the sun comes out to prevent overheating. Or cut the stems if the seeds pods are nearly brown and finish the process in the potting shed.

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