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May in the Middle South Garden...

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May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  dizzygardener on 5/2/2011, 9:44 am

PLANTING:
May is one of the busiest months in the garden for Middle South gardeners. No matter where you are in our region, your last frost date promises to arrive by the end of this month. This means that your spring gardens can begin their transition to summer.

Don't forget to support your plants! If something needs a trellis be sure to have it in place before your transplant. If something needs to be staked, make sure to stake it at transplant time.

Make sure to use your discretion when planting your warm season crops. Your last frost date is based the time of year when you have a 50/50 chance of getting a frost. It is possible that you may have to cover something up if your nighttime temperatures drop. Be sure to check the weather forecasts.

This month you'll also see your cold season crops begin to bolt, as the weather gets warmer and warmer. You can extend your lettuce and spinach harvests by shading them with shade cloth or you can move them into a part of your garden the receives some sun in the morning, but shade in the afternoon.

May planting tip:
Be sure to give your tomatoes a little life insurance. When you transplant put a little calcium in the bottom of the hole. Calcium could be crushed eggshells, powdered milk, or crushed calcium tablets. The extra calcium will help stave off Blossom End Rot.

Other good tomatoes supplements are Epson Salt to improve phosphorus and nitrogen uptake (and add Magnesium and sulfur) and a Match heads for added phosphorus and sulphur.

CLIMATE:

It looks like we are in for a beating this spring. I am sure you all are aware of the two massive storms that brought powerful tornadoes all across your area. The sheer level of destruction is astonishing. Please remember to keep our fellow mid-southerns in your thoughts and prayers (if you do that), and please keep yourself safe!

As to your SFG? Well, there isn't much you can do to protect it from a tornado, but if you are expecting hail or high winds you can use your hoops to cover your crops and offer them a bit of protection. But, at this time of year, putting a heavy covering over your gardens is risky. The temperatures under there will soar. If you aren't vigilant you can cook your crops. Bear that in mind.

For myself... my plants will just have to weather the storms as best they can.

May Climate Tip:Protect any new transplants from severe weather until they have time to get established. High winds can easily uproot a recent transplant.

PESTS:


I'm sorry to announce that May is the official start of our battle with insects. Some of you may have already experienced insect damage. I know I have. I have already had to go around my garden twice with Diatomaceous Earth (DE) and Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT).

I am a very strong believer in using organic methods in my garden. Why? Because I don't want to expose myself or my family to harmful chemicals, and I don't want to kill off beneficial insects. I will always recommend an organic solution before an inorganic one. I encourage you all to give it a try.

Now is a good time to get your organic bug fighting arsenal together. I always keep Insecticidal soap, BT, Neem oil and DE around. Those four things, along with picking off bugs and scraping off eggs will take care of probably 75% of your insect problems. For some of the tough ones like squash bugs and cucumber beetles, you might need something stronger.

If you plan to use organic pesticides make sure to read the instructions and wear gloves. Although these are organic compounds you still need to protect yourself from over exposure to them.

Here is a great link on organic pest control from NCSU. It includes links to other extension websites with great publications on organic farming. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/chatham/ag/SustAg/pestmanagement.html

Here's a link to Cornell's Resource Guide to Organic Insect and Disease Management. This is one of my favorite online resources for controlling pests organically. http://web.pppmb.cals.cornell.edu/resourceguide/

May Pest tip: Watch out for the BEES! Some of these organic methods can kill beneficials as well as the bad bugs. As a general rule, I'd wait until dusk to spread any insecticide, that way the bees will be in for the night but the bad guys will be out in full force. Also, try to avoid areas of the plant that bees may frequent. This is especially true for DE. Please use DE only as a ground treatment. Do not sprinkle it on your plant leaves. Bonus tips: Know your beneficial bugs from your bad bugs. Only kill the bugs that harm your gardens. Avoid killing off insect just because you don't like them. :tsk:

Now for the garden update.

This month I've done a video for you. Let me know if you have any questions about anything. ALSO, please post some pictures and/or video of your gardens. You know you want to.



Take care and happy gardening!


dizzygardener

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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  staf74 on 5/2/2011, 1:18 pm

Dizzie,

Great heads up on what to expect for our region. Very pro-active on the bug stuff and a wealth of info also. Thank you for your hard work Very Happy I feel like posting pics after such a wonderful video is like going from broadband to dial-up.

Oh well.....here's what my garden is doing as we head into May. Salad bed with container of flowering Chives to the left. Spinach is the big surprise. Not yet bolted. This post will change that of course....just my luck.



Closer shot of salad bed



Sort of aerial shot I guess. Me standing on a wobbly bench !



Bok Choi going gangbusters with Pepper varieties behind them. Four potato squares to the back corner. All with flower heads but not quite in bloom.



Okay....okay.....I have a row. Wanted to share as those potatoes in the row have all bloomed or about to already. I literally have hundreds of onions behind them bulbing up.



Early variety Blueberries ripening with Broccoli about ready to harvest.



Broccoli harvest so far.....



Secondary Broccoli heads forming. The gift that keeps on giving !!!



More peppers and Bush beans of Four varieties (one a kidney bean). All started from seed (or bean I should say). Staggered on two weekly intervals. Two squares left to go.



Basil seeds I saved from last year and sprouted. These will go in the Broccoli bed when they are spent. That bed will also house Tomatoes.



Carrot week square. Nurturing 16 little babies. All have first leaves appearing.



Come on y'all......lets brag a bit on our region. I believe we have one of the best out there for growing the widest variety of crops. Hope you like the pics.....I must say....I'm quite a proud pappa myself Very Happy

staf74

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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  boffer on 5/2/2011, 1:37 pm

Hey, Staf...it's a beautiful thing you got going! But at first glimpse I thought you had been holding out on us because I didn't recognize your boxes. But I was wrong; what a difference 5 months make in the look and feel of a garden!


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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  GreenBlueberry on 5/2/2011, 3:56 pm

I harvested my broccoli today and planted some Swiss Chard. The package said heat tolerant, so we'll see. I had a square that I didn't know what to do with, so I planted an okra that was lying around. I don't use it, but I guess I can always give it to someone who does, or "trade" it with the other people at the community garden.

GreenBlueberry

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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  staf74 on 5/2/2011, 9:40 pm

OMG....that's funny. That seems ssooooo long ago right now. 5 months may has well have been 5 years in gardening terms. Those lights will make their inevitable comeback this fall.

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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  jazzymaddy on 5/2/2011, 10:51 pm

Dizzy, thanks for the update and the food for thought. I'm off to buy BT and DE tomorrow. I did purchase some tulle, and my bed is now ready for the prom.



Hopefully that will help keep stuff in my babies' mouth, not those blasted bugs.

And it was nice to "meet" you, or at least hear your voice on the video. It seems to help me make a connection when I can see/hear someone. So now I feel like we're neighbors. Smile

Speaking of neighbors, I just met my back yard neighbor today. I looked out my back the other day, and saw that they had a raised bed built and ready to fill! Cool! A fellow gardener. I noticed her out there today working on it, so I scooped up the baby and headed outside to make a friend. It'll be so fun to watch her progress too (and do a little secret comparing - she's not doing SFG from what I can tell). And possibly pawn some of my extra zucchini on her...

Staf, your garden looks amazing. It really is amazing how beautiful several different colors of lettuce can look. You must take great pride in your lovely Eden back there. Seriously, I want to be you when I grow up.

So, on to more pictures. I'll post more of an update on my personal story spot "the story of a girl and her box" soon.



I decided to kill 2 birds with one stone (no offense BBG...), and created a little corner spot for transplanting my 2 extra zucchini plants that I wasn't willing to kill, but didn't have room for in my box. I didn't have quite enough MM left, so I just used the last of one opened bag of my wormy compost at the base. I will test out some methods of getting rid of the beasts in that spot before taking it to my big bed. Thinking of potatoes as bait and nematodes that someone mentioned. And if it all doesn't work, I haven't lost too much, because they were going to just be tossed anyway. Oh, and I had an extra broccoli seedling to put in there. Don't know if I'll get anything off it this late in the season, but it'll have a better shot here where it gets a little more shade.

Anyway, still haven't built my trellis, but I think I've decided how I'm going to do it. This is not it:



It's actually a shelf unit from Ikea that a friend wasn't using, and I thought would make a perfect trellis. But I want something more sturdy, so I'll save this for another box (which I've already decided I'll be building before the next season...)

My current project is to convince my husband that composting will not be an ugly stinky mess.

Well, I think that's it. Thanks for sharing the journey.
Tracy

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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  jazzymaddy on 5/3/2011, 2:51 pm

I HAVE BROCCOLI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wasn't sure I'd get any since I planted them a bit on the late side. I'm SOOOO excited! That's the one thing that I know the whole family will eat - the baby can't seem to get enough of it. And that's just the lame store-bought stuff. I can't wait!!!

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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  staf74 on 5/3/2011, 3:16 pm

Jazzy.....you've done a fabulous job in getting a garden up and running so quickly. You've really hit the ground running.....

I appreciate your kind words earlier but honestly.....

my boxes want to be your boxes when THEY grow up...hehe.

Great job on the Broccoli BTW - its one of my faves.....

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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  MasonGarden on 5/3/2011, 10:30 pm

I agree Staff. Jazzy's box is like "garden eye candy"! good job!

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Thinning onions

Post  Menditha on 5/6/2011, 5:30 pm

Thanks dizzygardner! I am a newbie and am learning so much from everyones' posts. You mentioned you need to thin your Vidalia onions to get bigger bulbs. I am growing 1015 onions and would also like bigger onion bulbs. Originally I planted them with the usual spacing of 16 per square foot. When I thin, if I am very careful is it possible to transplant some of the plants to an empty square?

Also, because of your warning about beginning our battle with bugs in May in the middle south, I was looking carefully and saw what looks like tiny winged aphids on my tomato plants. I happened to have some neem oil, so I put some water in a spray bottle with a squirt of dish soap (not antibacterial) and threw in a few drops of neem. I read that we should treat with neem either early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid getting the good bugs along with the bad. Unfortunately because of time shortage in the mornings I chose evening, and now it looks as though my tomato plants and bell peppers may have some early blight. Any words of wisdom other than removing the infected leaves and getting an earlier start in the morning in order to spray my neem?

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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  jazzymaddy on 5/6/2011, 5:49 pm

Ooh, thanks Staf and Mason. Y'all makin' me blush.

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Great Websites

Post  sharonrn on 5/7/2011, 8:51 am

Thank you so much for these. I've spent my whole morning looking at these 2 websites. Now I'm going to check my boxes for bad bugs and disease. Great info for us beginners Very Happy

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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  dizzygardener on 5/7/2011, 2:25 pm

Hey guys. Sorry for disappearing on you. This has been the week from hell let me tell you!

Anywho...

Menditha, you can try transplanting them and see what happens. I'm sure most if not all will make the transition smoothly. Can you post pictures of your sick plants? I'd stick with spraying Neem in the evening like after 7. Most of the good bugs are in bed by then.

Thanks everyone for the fantastic pictures. Your gardens look spectacular! I'm jealous. LOL

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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  Furbalsmom on 5/7/2011, 3:19 pm

Menditha

Nice to have a new member join our group. Happy that you have found the forum to be helpful. When possible, we try to answer your questions.

We look forward to hearing how your garden progresses and would enjoy it if you could share pictures.

Again, Welcome

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My ailing plants

Post  Menditha on 5/9/2011, 1:13 pm

Thanks! The bed where the ailing peppers and tomatoes are is not a true SFG, but I will try to convert it sometime. Here is a pic of an ailing mater leaf:



This makes me sad, because they were doing so well, and now they look sickly. Here's a pic of the peppers:





There are some beans next to the pepper in the first pic, and you can see one of the leaves encroaching on the pepper's space. (I will remedy that shortly.) Some of the beans also appear to have the same disease. I water in the morning and was spraying neem between 7 and 8 pm. I assumed that perhaps by spraying in the evening, the leaves stayed wet most of the night and helped infest my poor plants with something? :scratch:

Any suggestions?

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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

Post  GreenBlueberry on 5/18/2011, 4:40 pm

I couldn't go visit my garden for 3 days and the tomatillos went crazy! I found them on the ground sprawling all over the place. I got cages for them, but it was a pain to put them in since the plants where so big. Mental note: cage them next year BEFORE they get so big.
I'm kind disappointed though, because they have a ton of flowers, but no fruit. I do have 2 and there is another person in the community garden with a different one, so I thought I had pollination covered. Maybe it is just too early in the season, I read they like hot weather and Georgia's is crazy these days (90F last week, 60s this week).

On other news, I took my cilantro which went to seed (see temps in the 90F above). Not too sad about it. It was fun to grow it, but really, it is so cheap and available I don't think I will again. I planted a San Marzano tomato. I'm thinking about doing the same with the parsley. It's huge, and there is only so much the Guinea pig will eat. I'm thinking replacing with strawberries since I only have one square of those.

My spinach is out too. I got a ton of harvests (pinching leaves) but this last time it looked kinda groggy, so I planted some black eyed peas, and some heat resistant lettuce. I chose a shady square for the lettuce, hopefully that will help with the bolting. I can't wait to plant more spinach in the fall. It was very rewarding to plant seed and get so much our of it! The mesclun is going to be out this week as well. It's also looking sad but I don't know what is going to replace it.

What else? Oh yeah, I took out my catnip as well. It was huge and I had already harvested twice from it. I'm drying it for my kitties. I put a Black Zebra tomato there.

This is my first time growing anything! I really like SFG because I've been able to grow so many different things and I can keep changing the content of the square throughout the year!

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Re: May in the Middle South Garden...

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