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March in the Mid-South Garden

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March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  ander217 on 3/1/2011, 3:23 pm

Hello again, Mid-South gardeners. We've been saying, "C'mon, Spring!" for so long, and now it looks as though it might actually happen, at least for those of you in the southern tier of the zone. I was looking out my front door this morning before daylight, mesmerized by the beautiful sight of the thin, crescent moon so close to the morning "star", Venus. They were both brilliant, and watching our new baby lamb frisking in the pasture beneath them made me want to run outside and join the outdoor world. Since it was barely above freezing, I decided I'd better wait a few weeks before going wild in the woods and instead maybe I'd better concentrate on the spring garden.

How many of you have planted something in the outdoor garden? We set out onions in February and planted a few squares of early lettuce and radishes, but so far they haven't come up. The five inches of rain we got last Thursday may have pounded the seeds right to the bottom of the bed. Whew! That was a lot of water in a day.

Mid-March is a good time to prune your woody herbs back to the green wood. Sage and thyme will grow better with a little pruning, especially if you haven't pruned them in a while.

My grandma always said St. Patrick's Day was the day to plant potatoes. Some of you in the lower areas can plant in late February. What varieties of potatoes are you planting this year? We tried Yukon Gold last year for the first time, but won't grow them again because many of them had heart-rot. We're sticking with Red Pontiac and White Cobbler this year, both mid-season varieties.

If you haven't already done so, now is the time to start the warm-season transplants such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. It won't be long before cool weather crops can go into the outdoor garden. We are saving our brassicas - cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, collards, brussels sprouts, and turnips - for the fall garden, but I plan on two squares of kohlrabi this spring. If you still have onions to plant, they should go in the garden as soon as possible. They can take a light freeze without damage.

By the end of the month most of you should be able to plant peas, lettuce, radishes, arugula, carrots, beets, spinach, greens, dill, celery root, and brassicas. (Don't forget to save a square for planting nantes carrots on April 15.)

I'm getting revved up, rarin' to go, just talking about it. C'mon, Spring!!!

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March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  Bec on 3/1/2011, 3:34 pm

Thanks for all the info! Wow - time to start seeds already! I did it last year but the room I used for my "greenhouse" is now being used as a bedroom again. (which is what it really is.) I'll have to figure out where to start my seeds this year - yikes! (Room in a house sure disappears when a daughter and her 2 toddlers move in.) But where there's a will there's a way!

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Mid-South

Post  ander217 on 3/3/2011, 7:23 am

Bump

Any other Mid-South gardeners out there?

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  staf74 on 3/3/2011, 8:26 am

Hey Ander,

Yes I'm up and running. Started a topic on that I think a couple of weeks ago with some pics. Few squares each of Broccoli, lettuce, spinach, asparagus. Strawberries in planters. Adding more each weekend.

I have to admit though, I committed Blasphemy.....I tilled over two large ROWS for onions and potatoes. I did go for 4 squares of spuds though to make me not feel so guilty. Will see if I can produce enough this year to make it through next winter. I'm going to attempt a root cellar this summer.

With the sun angle rising fast and temps breaking 70, its amazing how quick the planting windows begin to close for things if you don't get busy. I've always been a terrible procrastinator. This farming stuff is seriously testing that habit.

That rain was crazy last week. I'm sure a lot of good nutrients leached out of my beds!

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  Clayton on 3/3/2011, 9:17 am

Thanks for the -bump-... This is actually my first post to the forum, so your bump worked. Last year we had a great garden with six 4x4 beds. This year we've expanded it to nine. Nine seems like a lot, but, one of the new beds was a Christmas gift to my parents. My wife and I gave them the book, some okra seeds, and a bigboxstore gift card use for materials.

I've been pushing them these last several weeks to see how the reading was going and if they had planned out their box. Based on our success last year, I warned them that no matter how much they love fresh okra, they shouldn't plan on more than two or three squares of it.

We're treating this as though they are a sharecropper - No free rides here! We're hoping this will force us to spend more time together since we live about 10 minutes apart, but don't see much of one another. They have started some of their seeds and are coming over Sunday afternoon to make the Mel's Mix. I'm also going to get them to help make some hoop houses and trellises. I'll try to attach two pictures that I emailed yesterday to encourage them. I already have the vermiculite, but I put them on the task to find the elusive fifth compost source.

Our first round of seedlings are coming along fine... but we need to start our next round in the next few days.

My wife had kept a successful row garden for several years before we met. However, the plot had gone fallow for another several years until I showed up. I'd never had a big garden and we turned the plot into a SFG last year after reading Mel's book.

As part of gearing up for this Spring, I looked at pictures I'd taken last year. That was very encouraging for me and I highly recommend it to everyone (both taking pictures and going back and actually looking at them).

Looking forward to any early spring!

Clayton







Last edited by Clayton on 3/3/2011, 9:25 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : second attempt to post pictures)

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Welcome Clayton

Post  Furbalsmom on 3/3/2011, 1:03 pm

Welcome Clayton, even though you have been a member for almost a full year.

We are glad you decided to post and join in on the fun.

What a great way to keep the family together, adding a 4X4 for your parents. I wish my family lived closer.

@Clayton wrote:This is actually my first post to the forum, so your bump worked. Last year we had a great garden with six 4x4 beds. This year we've expanded it to nine. Nine seems like a lot, but, one of the new beds was a Christmas gift to my parents. My wife and I gave them the book, some okra seeds, and a bigboxstore gift card use for materials.
We're treating this as though they are a sharecropper - No free rides here! We're hoping this will force us to spend more time together since we live about 10 minutes apart, but don't see much of one another. They have started some of their seeds and are coming over Sunday afternoon to make the Mel's Mix. I'm also going to get them to help make some hoop houses and trellises. I'll try to attach two pictures that I emailed yesterday to encourage them. I already have the vermiculite, but I put them on the task to find the elusive fifth compost source.

Again, Thanks for posting. Please keep us updated on your progress, and please, post more pictures as you go.

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Family gardening

Post  ander217 on 3/4/2011, 8:17 am

So glad you posted, Clayton. Even though you aren't a newbie, this will serve as an official welcome.

I also love your idea of family gardening. My hubby made a 4' x 4' cedar box yesterday for our DIL. They live about five miles from us, and she had wanted to start a garden for a few years but being a busy working mom she hadn't been able to find the time. Now all three of our children have SFG's.
(I love okra, too. What kind is your family growing?)

Staf74, we also grew onions and potatoes in our old row garden last year before we discovered the new SFG book and forum. Voles got over a third of our potatoes, so this year the spuds are going into our 12" deep box which has been reconstructed with hardware cloth on the bottom. The onions grew fine, but hubby has now turned all of that part of the garden into raised beds which don't have Mel's Mix, but are gridded on top, so I guess that makes them SFG. He mixes compost and rice hulls and layers it thickly on top of the existing soil so that weeds aren't a problem. (Knock on wood.) He has one 4' x 10' bed which contains 350 onions and shallots, including my potato onions. We also have a bed of Egyptian Walking Onions - we dug our first ones yesterday to use as green onions. I don't even eat onions except in cooking, but Hubby loves them - obviously.

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  HPartin on 3/4/2011, 1:42 pm

This spring I started my first SFG. I have 3 4x4's and I will add 3 more for the summer. I transpanted broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and parsley and planted seeds for early beets, swiss chard, a couple varieties of lettuce, sweet peas and spinach. I planted the seeds on Feb. 22 and I have tiny sprouts from my peas, swiss chard, buttercrunch. They took a little longer than anticipated! Smile. I hope to do another planting in a couple of weeks to stagger my "crop."

I have a question though. I noticed that the ground surface is hardened. I used Mel's Mix to fill the beds. Do I have too much peat moss in the box? Has anyone had this same problem? I am worried about sprouts not being able to break through it. This "crust" is about 2 inches thick. This morning I took a fork to gently break up some of it. (My husband thought I was crazy doing this in my slippers and pj's.)

But ultimately, how do I fix this problem in the future--more compost?

Heidi

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  acara on 3/4/2011, 1:59 pm

Heidi,

I had this problem a couple of weeks ago (the crusties Very Happy ).

I suspect mine was caused by rushing through mixing my MM & mixing in a smaller container than I should (because it was getting dark outside at the time) & I had a big chunk of peat that I missed in the mixing process.

When I dug the square out and spread it on a tarp, I found a couple more clumps that I didn't mix thoroughly. So my mix was "correct", just wasn't properly "mixed".

If you can't excavate due to having planted already ... I'd probably just do what you are already doing and till/break the top layer.

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  Furbalsmom on 3/4/2011, 3:59 pm

@HPartin wrote:This spring I started my first SFG. I have 3 4x4's and I will add 3 more for the summer. I transpanted broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and parsley and planted seeds for early beets, swiss chard, a couple varieties of lettuce, sweet peas and spinach. I planted the seeds on Feb. 22 and I have tiny sprouts from my peas, swiss chard, buttercrunch. They took a little longer than anticipated! Smile. I hope to do another planting in a couple of weeks to stagger my "crop."

I have a question though. I noticed that the ground surface is hardened. I used Mel's Mix to fill the beds. Do I have too much peat moss in the box? Has anyone had this same problem? I am worried about sprouts not being able to break through it. This "crust" is about 2 inches thick. This morning I took a fork to gently break up some of it. (My husband thought I was crazy doing this in my slippers and pj's.)

But ultimately, how do I fix this problem in the future--more compost?

Heidi

Heidi, when you mixed your Mel's Mix, did you actually measure out the peat moss, or did you just use the volumne listed on the bag? The reason I ask, is that most peat moss is compacted into the bale. So, if you use a 2.2 cu ft bale, you really have about 4 cu ft of fluffed peat moss. If there is too much peat moss, you can end up with that crusty surface.

If this is what happened, any empty squares can be amended with additional compost and vermiculite. As you harvest crops that have already been planted, you could amend those square too.

Another possible reason for that crust is that the MM was not thoroughly saturated when first placed in the box and that makes it difficult for future water to be absorbed into the mix.

Hope this helps.

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  dizzygardener on 3/4/2011, 4:54 pm

I've gotten off to a slow start, but I've started nonetheless.

Last weekend my hubbie and I removed some grass to make way for boxes. I also built my boxes. I'm doing one 4x8 and two 4x4 for a total of 64 sqft of space!

My next step is to get the dirt/MM and fill the boxes. I'm not going to be able to grow in straight MM. We just don't have the money to buy all that coarse vermiculite. Our mix will mostly be compost with peat moss and a little vermiculite mixed in. I might even add some twice chipped mulch to help lighten the mix.

I've already sown some seed indoors.

I've started some onion, broccoli, cabbage, broccoli raab, basil, parsely, garlic chives, lettuce, kale, collards, a couple tomatoes, and an experimental batch of peppers.

I've had some germination issue though. So far, less than half of my seeds have germinated. When I first started, I hadn't figured out how to keep the trays warm. Through lots of trial and error, I've finally settled on setting my tray on top of Christmas tree lights. It is working out quite well. I'm getting lots of seedlings popping up now.

I'd like to plant my spring crops in a couple weeks. I've got some PVC so I can construct a hoop house for them.

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Seed starting

Post  ander217 on 3/4/2011, 6:08 pm

The best place I've found to start seeds is on top of our TV satellite receiver. I cover the flats with plastic wrap to keep them moist, but I remove the wrap at the first sight of green sprouts.

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  dixie on 3/4/2011, 11:48 pm

Ander, thanks for all the To Do info. I also use the top of the fridge for seed starting, but since I had so many flats started, I also used the floor heat vents. I placed a couple of books on each end of the register & put my flats on that & covered with plastic til they sprouted. My peppers even sprouted in 11 days. They usually take a good 2 weeks for me.

Outside I have onion sets & Violet de Galmi, Red Burgundy, Yellow Granex, & a bunching onion are up. I have spinach, several lettuces in squares and this week started more in flats for transplanting later, transplanted cabbage from Walmart, plus have seedlings of Savoy, late Flat Dutch. Carrots have been seeded but just starting to come up: White Belgian, St. Valery, Jaune Obtuse du Doubs (huge, sweet yellow), and Muscade. I planted Sugar Bon sugar snap peas at the end of three 4' beds to trellis & they are just breaking through the ground. Yesterday I planted Cylindra beets. I haven't tried them before, but they should be easier to slice. I have arthritis and a bone spur in my thumb and using a knife or anything that requires a tight grip is very painful.

I am so glad Spring is just around the corner!

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  boffer on 3/5/2011, 12:14 am

Dixie, now that you don't have to waste time working anymore, are you going to double the size of your garden?

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  dixie on 3/5/2011, 12:47 pm

Hi Boffer. After the picket fence is finished at the driveway, I'll have room for a couple of 2' boxes against it, but that will finish my area in front of the house. I'll have another 2x20 in front of the retaining wall for asparagus, but it will probably have to wait til the Fall. I approached DH about more boxes in the yard, but they would have to be mowed around & that's a no-no. But I can be very persistent (I would NEVER just out & out nag.) But I will be nice & wait until after my potting shed is finished. I've nagged enough to get an attached chicken run to push my luck on anything else.

I am planning a couple of regular rows of tomatoes so I'll have enough to can this year. Do tomatoes do well in large buckets? That would be easier than in a row. I wouldn't have to fight the weeds.

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/6/2011, 9:22 am

@dixie wrote:snip.....I am planning a couple of regular rows of tomatoes so I'll have enough to can this year. Do tomatoes do well in large buckets? That would be easier than in a row. I wouldn't have to fight the weeds.

This is how I grew most of my determinant tomatoes last year (This shot is June 17) 2010 was an exceptionally bad tomato year in the PNW, which could never be called tomato country to start with.

These are my Cherokee Purples on August 18, a shot I never posted, but there was a thread up called "Show Me Your Cherokee Purple" I thought they were doing rather well considering it seldom got above 69 for most of the summer and the nights were known for dropping to the upper 40's.

This is a Siltz, which kept producing nice tomatoes in the bucket. This picture was taken right after we came home from a trip. The plant itself looks a little stressed (momma left it in the care of someone else and it pouted).

The "buckets" worked so well for me that I am going to do it again this year. The bigger, thicker black buckets worked best for me (we call them pot pots because we are forced to hurry and get them from the store in spring before the cannabis farmers can). They absorb heat which is important in the PNW. Before you get lots of them (fairly cheap at about $5 each and always on sale somewhere.) you might want to find out if black it the right color for your conditions (duh, I know you are a great farmer, don't know why I am compelled to say such things).

Lawn mowing was easier after I set the pots on left-over bags from MM ingredients and bark (mulch). The guys were able to lay a wheel on the edge of the mulch and mow. Kept it looking nice.

Deborah....who learned this from a woman who never stakes her's and they do fine.

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  dixie on 3/6/2011, 8:15 pm

(I'm not a great farmer, just been at it longer than some!) I don't think the black would work because it gets so hot here, but I have several of the white 5 gallon paint buckets. I tried watermelons in them last year and although I watered faithfully, they just didn't do well at all. I had them on a white concrete driveway up close to the garage, don't know if that had something to do with it or not. Your pot pots look bigger than 5 gallons, what size are they? They are also a lot nicer looking than the white buckets.

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  Clayton on 3/7/2011, 9:27 am

Where did that nice Spring-like weather go!?! My parents came over yesterday for three hours of garden time. We made 24 cubic feet of MM for the three new 4x4 boxes (one of them being theirs). We made the frames for four trellises and started on the hoop houses too. Attached are 4 photos of the fun.

Dad making the MMix


Mom watering as we fill the boxes


Mom taking a turn at pounding the two foot rebar sections


Completed the trellis frame and moving on to the hoop house ends

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Family fun

Post  ander217 on 3/7/2011, 9:41 am

Fantastic photos, Clayton.

What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with family. Can't wait to see your garden up and growing.

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  Furbalsmom on 3/7/2011, 3:48 pm

Clayton, how nice that they were able to make it over, even though the weather was not the best. This will be so great for your family to be able to visit and work together. Once the set up is completed, planting, nurturing and harvesting will not be over taxing on those less nimble.

Great pictures. Thanks so much for sharing.

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  dizzygardener on 3/7/2011, 4:12 pm

Well, I think I've just about finalized my garden plan:



If anyone has comments I'd love to here them.

I just put in an order for a ton of food compost from a local source. It should be delivered tomorrow. By all accounts this is some of the best compost one can get a hold to. I wonder if I can use it instead of doing a mix of 5 composts?

I'll pick up my vermiculite and peat moss on Wednesday, and then I'm all set to fill my beds!

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Oh yeah!

Post  sharonrn on 3/9/2011, 2:38 pm

Just a new gal on the "Square".
I'm in the mountains of Western NC very close to the North Georgia border. I'm trying to get away from all the work in my friend's 100'x60' row garden. Never worked so hard, but got the gardening bug in the blood now!
@ander217 wrote:Bump

Any other Mid-South gardeners out there?

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  walshevak on 3/9/2011, 4:21 pm

Hi, I'm on the cusp between the lower south and the middle south, Northeastern NC about an hour south of Norfolk. Average last frost date is 21 Mar. I've been following both regions.

I finally finished off building and filling all my bed last week. I've got six 4x4 tabletops. Started planting in some of the beds as I went along and now I've got spinach, kale, bok choy, onion and collard transplants planted and some turnips, lettuce, and mustard/spinach that I direct seeded popping though. I also have bok choy, radish, carrot seeded a few days ago. I know I'm pushing but I have to go out of town for about 3 weeks Fri and I wanted as much done as possible. I set up the timer on the hose today to water every other day. I'm taking my mater and eggplant seedlings with me and putting them in my sons mini green house. First up potting today. I'm going to his house (definately lower south) for the grandsons' 3rd and 19th birthdays. Plan to work some more on getting his sfg beds set up and help my DIL set up a flower bed in the shade.

I really enjoy reading the posts from everyone and pick up such interesting tidbits.

Kay

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Welcome

Post  ander217 on 3/10/2011, 11:21 am

Welcome to the forum, Sharonrn. (My hubby's an RN, too.)

I laughed at your comment about being the new girl on the square.



This is a great place to share with other SFG'ers, and if you have questions lots of folks here are happy to help if they can.

Keep us posted on how your garden grows.

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

Post  dixie on 3/10/2011, 11:52 pm

SharonRN: Western NC as in Murphy & Franklin? I'm in SE TN close to Cleveland & I go to the gem show in Franklin twice a year, it's not too far to drive.

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Re: March in the Mid-South Garden

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