Upper South

July, 2014
Regional Report

Attract Hummingbirds with Flowers

Add flowering plants that provide nectar to visiting hummingbirds to encourage these delightful little birds to frequent your garden. Good choices include bee balm (Monarda didyma), red flowered cultivars of coral bells (Heuchera), scarlet sage (Salvia splendens),, and foxglove penstemon (Penstemon digitalis).

Feed Hummers

Besides growing flowers in the garden that hummingbirds love, you can also bring these glittery flying gems close to a window or porch with special feeders that contain sugar water. To make the solution, combine 1 part sugar with 4 parts water, stir and heat until the sugar is dissolved, then cool before filling feeders. Replace every couple of days or at least once a week, cleaning the feeders each time.

Use Sun and Bug Protection

If you can't bear to wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants when working outdoors this summer, then definitely use at least an SPF 30 sunscreen. Always try to wear a brimmed hat, too. Although tests have shown the insect repellent DEET to be safe, for those still not convinced, there are a number of herbal insect repellents available. The most effective ones contain catnip oil.

Plan for Fall Vegetables

Begin planning the fall garden by acquiring seed for direct-sown crops like spinach, arugula, winter lettuces, kale, collards, turnips, and Asian greens. These crops are usually planted starting in mid-July until mid-August. For crops that are best transplanted, like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, start the seeds indoors or in the greenhouse for planting into the garden in a month to six weeks. Order frost-protection fabric now so that you'll have it on hand when you need it later this year.

Harvest Garlic, Onions, and Shallots

As the tops begin to turn yellow, dig up garlic, onions, and shallots. Gently wipe the soil off the bulbs, then spread in a single layer on screen raised off the ground. Let cure in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place out of direct sun for at least a week, although two weeks or longer may be needed for hardneck garlic. When thoroughly dry, cut off the tops, keeping an inch-long stem, and store in net bags in a cool, dry location.

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