Take stock of your seeds or supplies, and see what you want/need for the upcoming year. Our last average frost is April 15th, so I usually wait until then to plant my raised beds. Now is a great time to plan for & plant seeds indoors for your spring and summer veggie garden.
2. Seed starting vs buying plants
3. Container gardening.
ALWAYS HAVE DRAINAGE HOLES IN CONTAINERS
4. Raised beds.
My beds are 3’ x 8’. I have 3 wood beds. Leave bottom open to native soil-no landscape fabric wanted. Untreated wood for edibles
Dirt is ⅓ native soil, ⅓ soil conditioner, ⅓ compost-I like mushroom compost. Add in an organic fertilizer like Espoma garden tone when you build the soil. Can also use a pre mixed soil, or straight compost. Plant dwarf or smaller varieties.
Fertilize throughout the seaon. I like organic fertilizer for many reasons but here are three:
Better for plants- slower release, no burning, slower more even growth and better plants
Better for people-natural fertilizer creates tastier vegetables hands down, no chemical concerns
Better for the environment-only use what you need, and not more. Then the excess does not run off into the streams, rivers and lakes, and create problems.
5. Responsible Pest Control
Encourage good stewardship and organic gardening and pest control where possible. Pick them off, or spray with water as 1st pest control method. Always read the instructions thoroughly before treating anything
Let’s start off the New Year with a remembrance of the brilliant red fireworks of summer’s celebratory blooms. This stunning (and aptly named) Lobelia Cardinalis was a super special find from the Nightsong Native Plant Nursery sale last spring. Most of the pics are from blooming time which was mid August to nearly October.
Blooms just kept opening, marching up the ever growing stalk. I waited a while to transplant into the ground. I brought it home at the end of April, and planted in ground in mid July. Seemed to be growing nicely in the pot , so I waited. I dug a hole a bit deeper and wider than the current container, added some organic compost from my Earth Machine composter, and soil from my organic raised beds to fill the hole. Plentiful watering required during the super drought we had this summer and fall.
The mantis reminded me that there is an entire forest ecosystem at work right here in my own backyard garden. The link above takes you to an amazing paper prepared by Rachel G. Schneider about Georgia’s Forest Ecosystems. The mantis, butterfly, bee, and hummingbird love this plant; so do I, and even the cats (due to increased bird and butterfly activity).
It grew to over 3 feet tall, and I was awed and impressed by this amazing plant. This native to Georgia wildflower grows so well here, and I am thrilled to have in my backyard just under the overhanging shade of the oaks and hickories. It gets mostly full sun, with a touch of late afternoon shade in the worst heat of the summer sun. On some of the blazing hot days, it looked a little wilted in the direct sun, but quickly recovered.
This plant became the center of a flourishing ecosystem, in one season. I’m writing an article about the Tallassee Forest (my extended backyard). This area was sacred & special to the Native Americans, and has an interesting history. Many native plant and animal species thrive here – some only here. I’m so fortunate and excited to be able to experience this great state of Georgia, and to write about the native plants and ecosystems in my area!
I planted only two raised beds this year due to time constraints. Some of the pics are from April at planting time, and I am including new pictures from the end of June to show how much growth has happened over the last month and half.
Repair and planting of the beds April 20th 2019
I planted some Bonnie plants from six packs along with some seeds that I bought, or already had. Bed #1 has Bonnie Jalapeno, Bonnie Homestead Toms, and Bonnie Yellow Bell Peppers. See links to those three below. I also planted for the first time Jalafuego plants from Papa Joe’s Naturally Grown line from Sunbelt Greenhouses in Douglas, GA.
The summer garden work is over, and this crazy fall heat wave has broken. Now, I have time to catch up on writing about the plants that bloomed for the first time this year.
One of the spectacular native plants I bought at NightSong Native Plant Nursery’s Plant Sale last year, the Giant Purple Coneflower or ‘Echinacea Purpurea’, bloomed from June through August. There were five blooms total, and I recently cut off the dried seed heads to save for planting next year. I planted it in a 6 inch container last year, and am transplanting to in ground location today! (October 12th, 2018)
I found some fascinating info at my favorite wildflower site, US Wildflowers. The photos on this site are fabulous, and this site is an incredible free resource for plant identification.
Also, Southern Living has a great article by Gene B. Bussell on Purple Coneflower, detailing new hybrids being created, along with their uses in the southern garden.
I moved the plant from the container to the in ground location, where it will get good southern sun exposure. I will also be able to see the blooms through the deck railing. I transplanted on October 12th. All the leaves are gone now, but hopefully it will return next spring! I sprinkled one seed head all around the base of the plant, and saved the other four for planting next spring.
The three raised beds have produced more this year than I hoped! I harvested many beans, peppers, and herbs. I will give descriptions & details, with links, for all plants soon. Here are a few photo galleries & brief info for each month from June through August, 2018.
I planted new fall & winter seeds the week of Sept 19. See my previous post for detailed information about the raised bed building process, seed starting, and garden harvests from earlier this year. Also, my next post will feature some of the gorgeous, Georgia native plants that finally bloomed in my garden this year!
Tomatoes-Yellow Pear, Okra, Baby Sugar Pie Pumpkins,
Peppers- better pictures of later harvests to follow in my next post which will cover the progress from June-Aug.
1. Jalapeno 2.Habanero 3. Sweet Italian 4.Tabasco
Basil- 3 varieties 1.Thai 2. Cinnamon 3. Genovese
Borage, Dill, Fennel, Caraway, Cucumbers. Details to follow in next post.
I moved the Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Oregano from Raised Bed #1 to in ground locations very early in the spring, because I wanted to make room for more veggies in the bed, and those herbs are perennials which survive the winter here.
I really needed a new third bed, given how many seeds I started this year. I finally got it built in mid April-, but then didn’t get it filled and planted, until first week of May.
I’ve been needing a large Strawberry Pot, and I finally found the perfect one at
Cofer’s – my absolute favorite garden center of all time!
Below is a link to my transcription of my handwritten, in a hurry seed starting notes. Not very interesting, but I’m trying to record my data to improve my yields and timing for the future.
I will post the details of the garden progress from the months of June, July & August very soon. I have already harvested many beans, herbs and peppers! The garden work finally slowed down enough, and the weather is too hot to be outside working much anyway, so I am finally catching up posting.
I will update info and add links on all plants grown this year soon. Here are some pics, and a few details, on the garden happenings the last few months. Whew! Too busy to write much now, but check back soon. I welcome any southeastern gardener’s input, or anyone’s thoughts at all. Thanks!
But wait … there’s more!
We used almonds instead of pine nuts in the pesto, and it was incredible. I gave it away as a gift, but had some left over. It was one of the most flavorful and delightful mixtures I have ever tasted. Using many fresh herbs from my garden including Basil, Rosemary, Parsley, and Oregano makes me happy. Yay!
I added a second round of transplants and seeds in early May. Directly sowed more cucumber, bush beans & more tomato seeds. I added my organic, homemade compost from the Earth Machine, mushroom compost, organic pine bark mulch, and native clay soil to both beds.
This year, I have an infestation of what we call tater or pill bugs, (but they have many names). So far, they’ve only munched my cucumber leaves a little. I will leave them alone, as they don’t seem to be doing much harm. They are very interesting creatures, notable for their ability to clean heavy metals from soil.