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January in the Mid-South Garden

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January in the Mid-South Garden

Post  staf74 on 1/1/2012, 6:14 pm

Welcome everybody to the new year and the January update from the Middle South Region. Every month during the year (as close to the 1st as I can do it) I will post an update for fellow Mid-south gardeners as to what type of things they could / perhaps / ought to be doing around about now. Within our region, we are going to have differences in climate for sure, therefore, these updates are just a bare bones guide as to how to keep on track with the seasonal changes specific to our region.

The updates will usually include a short video of my own personal SFG talking about some things to think about. The video will come shortly as youtube crashed my upload two hours into it.....AGGGHH!!!

Although our growing season is on average pretty long and easily over 200 days per year, unless you are into season extension, you probably have bare beds going into January. Personally I over winter the hardy veggies (as you will see) but it does not mean that your SFG should be something you totally forget about. On the contrary, here's a few ideas for you to ponder for January.

1) Maintenance. Check your beds now for structural integrity. Are they old? Could one require some new nails or has one side rotted out and could do with a replacement? Now is the time to check your weed-block for example. Mine has holes in one where ants ravaged it and I will replace it this month. I like to turn over Mel's Mix and re-fluff it by hand taking out any larger roots from the past season. I usually find a few grubs and cutworms lying at the bottom just waiting for the nice spring veggie roots to munch on. Needless to say, they meet a quick end once I find them.

2) Additions / set-up. Now is a good time to add new beds, or simply add your first if new to SFG Very Happy or move a bed to a better location. Plan out the layout now while you have the time and nothing in it !!!

3) Plan. Make a plan NOW for the whole season if you can. This has to be flexible and I'm sure things will change but now is a good time to envision how you will transition from spring to summer to fall etc. What is your rotation going to be? What type of crops do you want to plant and where? Do you want more squares of something and less of another? You can't predict the weather but you are in total of control of what you plant. Perhaps you are not a planner and that's fine also but it does help pass the time on cold weekends.

4) Compost sources.
Have you enough to replenish the garden this season? Do you know where to locate them before the mad spring rush? Do you have your own compost pile? If not, now is a great time to start one. Have you checked craigslist for the local farms for sources? Much of my pile was scavenged for free from various farms over a few days from sourcing craigslist and searching for "manure"

5) Seeds. You have plenty of time this month and some of February to think about where you will get your seeds before the early itch of spring arrives. Have you ordered yet from seed catalogs? Will you just wait and buy from the Big Box stores? Some really neat, rare and simply better seed stock can be found from true seed companies that specialize in seed. Do you usually just visit the local store and buy transplants? If so, no need to worry for a good while but prepare to be at the behest of their stocking schedule and what they have ordered. I did this when I first started SFG and it worked but now I really start everything from seed myself. The local temps in my zipcode just get too hot, too fast for cool crops arriving too late at stores to mature enough for maximum harvest. I now choose varieties that bolt to seed less quickly and favor my climate rather than what favors bulk growing and shipping of a big box store.

6) Indoor seed starting. I have a modest and simple clamp light set-up that allows me to start seed in my insulated garage and then transplant to my garden. I also use hoop tunnels to protect from night-time frosts to "cheat" a little and get a head start. If you are thinking about seed starting yourself, count back from your average last frost date about 4/6 weeks and start from there. For most of us that means starting seed indoors around early March although the warmer parts of our region may find the mid/end of February to be more appropriate. This also depends on the crop. Carrots take a while to germinate and get going for example. This section could have all waited until the next update but if you want to start your own seed and currently DON'T have the set-up in place, you have plenty of time to get the materials, order the seed etc so you don't have to rush around next month. Besides, you never know, our winters can be so mild that indoor seed starting in January is feasible for cold hardy Feb plantings.

Much of this update can be substituted for other regions. Much of this stuff is pretty much self explanatory for this time of year but if you're wondering what to do around about now, this might be a good starting point.

Ciao for now Very Happy

Video to follow..

staf74

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Re: January in the Mid-South Garden

Post  RoOsTeR on 1/1/2012, 7:23 pm

Some great information here staf! Thanks for taking the time to do an excellent update.
I am totally jealous of your loooong growing season. Cool
And I can't wait to see the vid!!

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Re: January in the Mid-South Garden

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 1/1/2012, 9:26 pm

Don't forget to check the appendices in Mel's book for seed starting charts. Some veggies start back at 12 weeks pre-frost. The book is an excellent review source this time of year.

Great post, Staf. Looking forward to the vid.

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Re: January in the Mid-South Garden

Post  dixie on 1/1/2012, 10:37 pm

Great post & thanks.

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Re: January in the Mid-South Garden

Post  walshevak on 1/2/2012, 9:24 am

Glad you took on the task of regional host. Although my zip code puts me in the lower south, I am so far north in the region that I follow you as well. I'm just south of Va Beach and just across the Albemarle Sound from Nags Head. The ocean has a warming effect in winter. But just west across highway 17, about 20 miles away. is your region

Kay

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Re: January in the Mid-South Garden

Post  staf74 on 1/2/2012, 11:13 am

My copy of the book is with a friend right now but I've just requested it back to refresh my brain for indoor planting dates.

sfg4uKim wrote:If you choose to do this, the Planting Charts begin on page 253 and seed storage times on page 192 of the ANSFG book (2005).


Thanks Kim for the page links.

Here's the video......not my best actually by a long shot (sound at times) but perhaps it will help visualize my post better. Pls check in with the book for sure and appendices as BBG had said.


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Re: January in the Mid-South Garden

Post  staf74 on 1/2/2012, 6:17 pm

ok, just got my ANSFG book back today. A simple text to my friend and he brought it right over !!!!

So take heed fellow Mid-Southerners !!!!! Yes indeed it is 12 weeks before frost date for Brassica indoor seed starting. You all should know I love my brassicas Very Happy The book does state that they are ready for transplant around 5 weeks before first frost though so it's not 12 weeks of indoor growth and I think its important to distinguish that. My concern was that my little indoor set-up won't be able to support larger transplants but a 6 week plant should be fine. I do have the hoop tunnel to protect after that.

So I will start Brocco seed around Jan 25th and move 6 week old plants into the SFG but under the hoops for night-time frost protection below 28/30 as they are pretty hardy plants.

BTW - 23 degrees here tonight and 18 tomorrow. affraid

For here, thats almost as bad as it gets. I'll have two lights running tonight under the hoops protecting spinach, carrots, kale, beets and cilantro.

I'll post here how it goes.....wish me luck Very Happy

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Re: January in the Mid-South Garden

Post  staf74 on 1/4/2012, 11:04 am

WOW ! what a success. My thermom says it all.....



I put a comforter on top of the plastic and put a tarp over that. I added another set of xmas strip lights giving me two.

Got down to 15 degrees last night and my hoop tunnel held steady at 40.

Gardening all year round in the mid-south???.....ABSOLUTELY DO-ABLE.

BTW-Been running these lights now most days of the week for a month and my electric bill went up by $12. However, the furnace is also going most days now also. I would say that my little set-up is negligible in terms of extra cost$.

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Re: January in the Mid-South Garden

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 1/4/2012, 11:30 am

I could sleep in the tunnel you've built!

The book does state that they are ready for transplant around 5 weeks before first frost though so it's not 12 weeks of indoor growth and I think its important to distinguish that. My concern was that my little indoor set-up won't be able to support larger transplants but a 6 week plant should be fine. I do have the hoop tunnel to protect after that.

The "trick," to me, is getting the seedlings to 5 weeks without them getting leggy on me. My lights are fine to sprout seeds, but not intense enough to get them off to a strong enough start after few days....let alone few weeks. Turning things off at night really, really helps, but they still leg out after awhile.

Anyone needing to keep things indoors for more than a week should really do their research on lighting imo. My broccoli, cauliflower, and celery did better than most other things I tried, but you really need to watch all of the seedlings.

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Thanks

Post  jhayford on 1/17/2012, 9:46 pm

Thank you for your post and video. I still consider myself "new" because I don't really have a set plan and am trying to figure it out. This helped me a lot and made me dig out my book like I should have done when my first seed cataloge showed up. Anyway thank you much. Oh and you have the oddest southern accent lol.

Jenn

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Re: January in the Mid-South Garden

Post  staf74 on 1/18/2012, 9:46 am

Hi Jenn,

LOL, I do have a weird southern dialect don't I ?? Its native to only a very small part of South Carolina where pockets of Red-Coats still hold out ..... Very Happy

As you get into your spring planning, do ask for help for any and every question you may have. Lots of us here will be glad to help.

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Re: January in the Mid-South Garden

Post  jazzymaddy on 2/4/2012, 9:57 pm

Hey Staf. Congrats on your new post! And your garden still looks fantastic.

I just went out to my garden after a long winter (?) of neglect, and harvested some broccoli and enough lettuce for a scrumptious salad, and I am officially back on the wagon. Smile Did you start your broccoli seeds? Think it's too late for that?

Have you seen this? http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/pdf/hgic1256.pdf

Tells when you can begin planting things in the piedmont, and certain things say as early as Feb 1-15. What's your experience tell you about that? Too early still? I really want sweet peas this year. Missed it last year.

And how early would you start tomato seeds? I have lots of packets I got last year, only to find out that it's recommended that you use seedlings. I thought if I jumped on it early enough this year, those seeds may yet do me some good. Although the thought of battling more hornworms... I had so many. Bleagh.

Thanks! Good to be back in the saddle.
Tracy

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Re: January in the Mid-South Garden

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