Upper South

June, 2013
Regional Report

Be Safe in the Sun and Heat

Sunshine cheers us up and helps our bodies produce vitamin D, but it also can cause sunburn, premature wrinkling, cataracts, and skin cancer. To prevent these effects of too much sun exposure, apply sunscreen every day before going outside to garden, and wear a hat and sunglasses. There are also clothes available that provide ultraviolet light protection. To avoid the effects of heat, drink plenty of water, take frequent breaks in the shade, work outside in the early morning and evening, and wear a bandana soaked in cool water around your neck.

Water Newly Planted Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs planted this spring need regular, deep watering every 7 to 10 days all through the summer in order to become well-established. The best method for watering is with a soaker hose (soaker hose circles are made especially for trees) or letting the water run very slowly from a hose. If you didn't make a well around the plants when planting, do so now. This will help hold the water around the rootball. If a tree or shrub is large, water under the spread of the tree crown, not just at the base of the tree.

Divide and Replant Iris

The tall bearded iris, often called German iris, thrive on being divided and replanted at least every three years into newly reconditioned soil. The best time to do this is about four to six weeks after blooming, as the plants are entering a period of partial dormancy before gearing up again in late summer and fall. Cut leaves back to about 8 inches, dig up the clump, and break apart the rhizomes, keeping the newest and healthiest ones. Let the rhizomes air dry several days before replanting and watering in thoroughly.

Mow Lawns Higher

As weather warms and grass growth slows, increase the mowing height to 3 inches. Mowing too short is an open invitation to weeds. If you mow frequently, it's advantageous to leave the clippings on the lawn. Since grass clippings are about 80 percent water, they will decompose rapidly and add nutrients to the lawn. If the grass needs it, water lawns once a week, applying a total of 1 to 1-1/2 inches of water per week.

Replace Spring Vegetables

As the heat takes its toll on the cool-season vegetables, such as peas, broccoli, cabbage, raab, arugula, and lettuce, remove the plants, loosen the soil, add fertilizer, and replant with a summer crop. There's still time for most crops to mature. Green beans grow quickly, maturing in about 50 days, while edamame (edible soybeans) take about 90 days. Summer squash and cucumbers also grow fast, providing harvests in 50 days or so. When starting plants directly from seed, keep the area watered well if the weather is dry, or sow just before a rain. Plant transplants late in the day and provide shade with an upturned pot or cardboard box for several days.

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