Mid-Atlantic

August, 2014
Regional Report

Sow Seeds for Fall Leafy Veggies

Cool weather greens such as kale, lettuce, spinach, mache, Swiss chard, collards, Oriental, mustard will sprout quickly in the warm soil. By late August and early September, temps will drop -- just right for good growth and harvest. Stagger sowing times over several weeks. That way in October/November when frost threatens, you'll have extra plants to protect with a floating row cover that can extend harvest despite cold spells.

Check Melons

When ready to pick, cantaloupes should slip off the vine in your hand, watermelons should thump, lose their sheen, and be buttery yellow on the underside, honeydews should smell ripe like melon. To protect nearly-ripe melons from all kinds of pesky varmints , enclose the melon inside a wire mesh cage.

Care for Your Compost Pile

Water your compost pile if the weather stays dry. Compost needs to be evenly moist like a wrung out sponge-- not sopping wet, but not dry either. To conserve moisture, you can cover it with a tarp. This also keeps weed seeds from blowing into your compost. Remember to remix the materials periodically for faster results.

Harvest Sunflower Seeds

Ward off hungry birds by using cheesecloth or panty hose to cover sunflower heads. Cut off the seedhead (keep a generous foot long stem attached) when it is completely dry and brown on the back. Hang it in a dry, airy place to finish drying, at which point the seeds will pop out easily.

Dry Flowers

Some flowers that may be dried by hanging upside down in a dark, dry, airy location include hydrangea, statice, strawflower, larkspur and gomphrena. Cut the flowers in the morning after the dew has dried. Bundle a few stems together using a rubber band, and hang so the bunches do not touch. Cut strawflowers and gomphrena when they are only partway open to prevent them shattering later.

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