Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Middle South

May, 2001
Regional Report

Plant Okra

Okra has no trouble germinating in hot soil, but the hard seeds benefit from soaking in water overnight just before planting. Sow seeds 2 inches apart and gradually thin the plants to stand 12 inches apart. Another advantage of this vegetable is that its big leaves often shade out summer weeds.

Cage Tomatoes

Stake or cage tomatoes to keep plants high and dry. The most common disease of tomato, early blight, needs damp leaves to spread. Plants that are securely caged and then mulched well with clean straw will be less likely to get this disease than those that come in contact with the wet soil.

Pinch Back Mums

If your chrysanthemums came back from last fall's planting, pinch them back by half their size to make them grow bushy. You'll get twice as many flowers, and the plants won't grow tall and lanky. Even when pinched, established mums will probably grow much larger than they did in pots.

Weed Ground Covers

Unwanted tree and shrub seedlings such as maple and oak are now easy to spot in ground covers. Use large pliers to grab woody weeds near the base and pull them from ground covers and shrub beds, preferably when the soil is wet. The longer tree seedlings stay rooted, the harder they are to pull.

Deadhead Peonies

Take a few minutes to trim old blossoms from peonies. Besides making the plants look neater, deadheading eliminates extra moisture near the leaves, which can reduce problems with fungal leaf spots. As long as the leaves are spotless, they can be cut this summer as greenery for indoor arrangements.


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