Lower South

June, 2007
Regional Report

Plant Summer-Loving Veggies

Okra, sweet potatoes, southern peas (black-eye, crowder, purple hull, zipper cream), malabar spinach, vegetable amaranth, and other hot weather veggies will thrive in our summer heat. Plant them now and mulch the area well to deter weeds. Keep them well watered because the hot weather increases their need for moisture.

Prune Spring-Blooming Shrubs

Prune spring-flowering shrubs soon after they complete their flowering cycle. This includes azaleas, camellias, roses that bloom only in spring, spirea, forsythia, and flowering quince. Keep the natural shape of the plant in mind as you prune, and avoid excessive cutting except where necessary to control size.

Raise the Mower Blade

Set the lawn mower a little higher for summer mowing. The turfgrass will develop deeper roots and be a more resilient plant if you don't mow the turf too short. St. Augustine and centipede can be mowed at a 2-1/2- to 3-inch height, while zoysia and standard types of Bermuda will do fine at 1-1/2 to 2 inches tall.

Powdery Mildew is Back

Powdery mildew is back again on roses, crape myrtles, rock rose (Pavonia), squash, and melons. Regular sprays with a preventive product are required for effective control. Some low-toxicity options are sprays containing sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), potassium bicarbonate, and neem oil. Read and follow label directions carefully to prevent injury to plants.

Prevent Blossom End Rot

Blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium at the growing tip of tomato and watermelon fruit. A lack of calcium in the soil, or moisture levels that fluctuate from dry to wet can lead to blossom end rot. Keep soil evenly moist early in the season when the first fruits are developing. Plants growing in sandy soil are especially prone to this problem.

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