* Keep pinching back mums to keep them blooming longer and make them bushier.
* Lamb’s ear tends to have their lower leaves die after a heavy rain. This forms ugly mats that will rot stems and roots. Pull away the yellow leaves to keep up airflow.
* Fertilize crape myrtles, butterfly bushes, and hydrangeas with 1 Tablespoon of 10-10-10 per foot of height. www.caes.uga.edu/applications/publications/files/pdf/C% 20944_4.PDF Fruits and Vegetables
* Before you spray an insecticide on your vegetables, check the label. Each insecticide has a waiting period after application before you can harvest.
* Although tomatoes are self-pollinating, they need movement to transfer pollen. If it is hot and calm for several days, gently shake plants to assure pollen transfer and fruit set. Hot temperatures can interfere with blossom set.
* Water stress in sweet potatoes can result in cracked roots. A potassium deficiency causes long, slender roots. Too much nitrogen reduces yield and quality. www.caes.uga. edu/applications/publications/files/pdf/C%201023_1.PDF
* Most fertilizer recommendations are for 100 square feet, so keep your garden’s square footage a simple fraction of that. For example, a 4 X 12 foot garden is exactly 50 square feet and would require exactly one half the fertilizers required by a garden of 100 square feet.
* Okra pods get tough if allowed to grow too large. Pick regularly.
* Mulch strawberries heavily to protect them from heat and drought.
* The time of day vegetables are harvested can make a difference in the taste and texture. For sweetness, pick peas and corn late in the day; that’s when they contain the most sugar, especially if the day was cool and sunny. Other vegetables, like lettuce and cucumbers, are crisper and tastier if you harvest them early in the morning before the day’s heat has a chance to wilt and shrivel them.
*Start a fall crop of Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and kale indoors. Outdoors, sow pumpkin, beans, squash, cucumbers, and crowder peas. Plant carrots mid-month. www.caes.uga.edu/applications/publications/files/pdf/ C%201023_1.PDF
* Pick squash regularly to keep up production. If the vines wilt, check the base of the stem for “sawdust”. This means the plant has squash bores in the stem. Remove infected plants (thus removing the bores) and plant new seeds. It is good to change your planting location to hopefully prevent the new plants from being attacked.
* Sunflowers are ready to harvest when the back of the head turns brown.
* Keep an eye out for tomato hornworm. They can do enormous damage overnight. They also attack Nicotiana. When you see damage, check under leaves and stems to find them. Hand -pick to dispose of them.
* Don’t plant all your beans at once. If you stagger the plantings every two weeks you will have fresh beans longer. Soak bean seeds overnight before planting for faster germination.
*Use bamboo poles to form a large teepee-like structure. Use twine to create a trellis though all but one section of the teepee. Plant pole beans along the twine. Watch the beans grow into a house that kids love to play in. The section that was not tied with the twine is the entrance to the bean teepee.
If you keep your houseplants indoors all summer, keep them out of the draft of the air conditioner. Plants react to an air conditioner’s cool air in various ways. Some drop their leaves, others don’t bloom well and some fail to bloom at all. Information about Extension Solutions for Homes and Gardens can be found on the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension website at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/cherokee or by contacting the Cherokee County Extension Office at 100 North St., Suite G21 in Canton at (770) 479-0418. The Georgia Extension Master Gardener Program is a volunteer training program offered through county offices of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.