Lower South

July, 2013
Regional Report

Tip Layer Tomatoes

If you have old tomato vines, try "tip layering" a few to start new plants. Scoop out a shovelful of soil near a plant and bury a section of vine about a foot from the end. Keep the spot moist, and after a few weeks it will be well rooted. Cut the connection to the mother plants and remove the old mother plant along with its diseased leaves and spider mites. The new plant will soon be well on its way to a fall crop.

Evaluate Landscape Performance

Take a critical look at your landscape now that summer is in its full fury. Make notes of how you think it can be better arranged and which plants need replacing. Also look for wimpy specimens that just can't take our southern heat or that may need another location where they will be shaded from the hot afternoon sun.

Water the Gardener Too!

Don't forget to drink plenty of water when you are out in the heat. These days over 100 degrees are brutal. Heat stress can really sneak up on you if you are not careful. Don't wait until you are thirsty. Drink glasses of water throughout the day whenever you are working outdoors. Try to do most of your outdoor activities in early morning or very late in the day, and take frequent breaks.

Use Your Sun Sense

We gardeners often get careless with the sun. It can do significant skin damage over the years, as its effects are cumulative. A wide sombrero and some sunscreen lotion for the skin will go a long way in avoiding major problems later in life.

Keep Fruit Trees Healthy and Vigorous

Most fruit trees, vines, and bushes are setting fruit buds now for next spring's crop. Stressful conditions in mid to late summer will affect quantity and quality of fruit next year. Keep the soil moist and mulch well to deter weed competition. Young fruit trees will benefit from a midsummer application of fertilizer. Spread one cup of a high nitrogen product per inch of trunk diameter evenly beneath and just beyond the branch spread. Then water it in well.

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