Middle South

June, 2001
Regional Report

Sharpen Tools


If you haven't sharpened your hoe and spade since the season began, get out a metal file and scrape away until the blades are gleaming sharp. A sharp tool makes cutting, digging, and cultivating a lot easier. I keep a file handy just for yard tools. It gets dirty because I don't bother to clean the tools first.

Deadhead Annuals


Snip off old flowers from celosia, annual verbenas, zinnias, and all types of salvia as soon as they become ragged. These "cut-and-come-again" annuals will bloom from side shoots that will sprout after pruning if they're not allowed to produce seeds.

Plant Caladiums

Lighten up shady areas with caladiums. Because they need so much water, try planting the tubers in plastic pots sunk into the soil up to their rims. The pots deter tree roots from competing with the tubers, and they help hold in moisture. The pots are easy to lift and store at the end of the season, too.

Pamper Peppers


The warm soaking rains of the last few weeks have been great for peppers, which need large amounts of water. Mulch your peppers with a 2-inch layer of straw. Pick some of the fruits green to encourage continual production all summer, but leave a few plants with mature green fruits to ripen to the red stage.

Pick Blueberries


You can't beat blueberries when it comes to low-maintenance backyard fruits. They grow readily in our region and, other than adjusting the pH to be acidic, require little care. Choose southern blueberry varieties or rabbiteye varieties. Choose two different favorites to plant because blueberries benefit from cross-pollination.

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