Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Upper South

June, 2005
Regional Report

Gardening With Arthritis

Gardening is a great activity for maintaining joint flexibility, bone density, and range of motion. With a few simple changes, even people with arthritis can enjoy the benefits and pleasures of gardening. Talk to a doctor about wearing braces; buy tools developed for those with arthritis; garden at times of the day when you feel best; before gardening, stretch to loosen joints and muscles; choose low-maintenance plants; wear an apron with pockets to carry frequently used tools; use a sprinkler rather than heavy watering cans to water; and use a wheeled hose caddy.

Be Safe in the Sun and Heat

Sunshine cheers us up and helps our bodies produce vitamin D, but it also can cause sunburn, premature wrinkling, cataracts, and skin cancer. To prevent these effects of too much sun exposure, apply sunscreen every day before going outside to garden, and wear a hat and sunglasses. There are also clothes available that provide ultraviolet light protection. To avoid the effects of heat, drink plenty of water, take frequent breaks in the shade, work outside in the early morning and evening, and wear a bandana soaked in cool water around your neck.

Water Newly Planted Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs planted this spring need regular, deep watering every 7 to 10 days all through the summer in order to become well-established. The best method for watering is with a soaker hose (soaker hose circles are made especially for trees) or letting the water run very slowly from a hose. If you didn't make a well around the plants when planting, do so now. This will help hold the water around the rootball. If a tree or shrub is large, water under the spread of the tree crown, not just at the base of the tree.

Control Insects on Vegetables

Flea, Colorado potato, Mexican bean, and cucumber beetles can destroy a crop almost overnight. Check plants daily for signs of infestation. Thorough garden cleanup in the fall can help reduce problems, as can crushing egg clusters and using row covers. Rotenone/pyrethrum and neem sprays control most of these pests fairly well and are considered organic methods. Both are still poisons, however, so use them carefully. If you grow lots of potatoes, consider the insecticide based on the strain of Bacillus thuringiensis that kills potato beetle larvae.

Mow Lawns Higher

As weather warms and grass growth slows, increase the mowing height to 3 inches. Mowing too short is an open invitation to weeds. If you mow frequently, it's advantageous to leave the clippings on the lawn. Since grass clippings are about 80 percent water, they will decompose rapidly and add nutrients to the lawn. If the grass needs it, water lawns once a week, applying a total of 1 to 1-1/2 inches of water per week.


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