Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Upper South

July, 2007
Regional Report

Prune Perennials

In her book, The Well-Tended Perennial Garden (Timber Press, 2006, $34.95), Tracy DiSabato-Aust emphasizes the importance of regularly pruning perennials in order for them to have the best possible growth, flowering, and appearance. The aspects of pruning perennials include deadheading, cutting back, pinching, disbudding, thinning, and deadleafing. Each different perennial varies in its requirements, so it's best to learn what your particular ones need in order to give them that "perfect" care.

Plant, Harvest, Plant, Harvest

The vegetable garden is in full swing now, so check it daily for those items that need harvesting as well as weeding, watering, and pest control. There's plenty of time to start second plantings of fast-growing crops like summer squash and bush green beans. Plant potatoes for fall harvest, and begin determining where and what you want for fall crops like turnips, kale, and spinach. Start cabbage and broccoli seed indoors for transplanting.

Make Dilly Beans

There's certainly great delight in eating fresh-from-the-garden produce, but it's also deeply satisfying to preserve foods for use this winter. Among the easiest to make are pickled green beans. To make, put 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, a small clove of garlic (peeled but left whole), a fresh dill head or 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds into each clean 12-ounce canning jar. Wash, drain, and remove stem ends from green beans and pack into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Measuring 1/2 cup white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup water, and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt for each jar, bring the mixture to a boil in a saucepan, then pour over beans to 1/4 inch of the jar top. Attach canning lids and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Wait several weeks to allow flavors to blend and mellow before serving.

Reduce Japanese Beetle Damage

It can readily be said that there is no absolute control of Japanese beetles, only hope of keeping their damage to a minimum. Some gardeners choose to handpick them in early morning or late evening, dropping them into buckets of water. Others prefer letting the beetles devour certain plants in the garden, realizing that the insects will usually leave other plants alone. Treating the lawn for grubs with milky spore helps but only if nearby yards are also treated. The safest botanical insecticide to use is neem.

Add Some Color

Although the main planting season has passed, it's still possible to fill in spots in the garden with annuals that will provide color until frost. Don't settle for those bedraggled stragglers of impatiens and marigolds that have been on the store shelves for weeks. Instead, search out garden centers that continue to offer freshly grown plants. Transplant in the cool of the evening, preferably just before rain is predicted. If plants start to wilt, water and cover with a cardboard box or large pot for several days.


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