- This month - it's time to plant summer gardens on the Gulf Coast and Regan shares some time-tested tips for growing a good crop of veggies in your home garden.
Spring is upon us along the coast of Mississippi. According to MSU horticulturalist, Gary Bachman, “Wisteria doesn’t bloom at the first sign of warm weather. It’s one of those plants that waits patiently and is a good indicator that spring has officially sprung." The gnats, the leafing of the pecan trees and my oak pollen allergies are also good indicators.
I have found that another indicator of spring is the arrival of seed catalogs in my mail box. I love these catalogs as they give me a chance to learn about and dream of all the vegetables that I could grow. I study them over coffee in the morning.
I mark them and fold them and carry them around the house like no other piece of literature. In a time when I had more energy, I would plan out our huge garden (about 1500 sq ft) in the Kiln. There would be several drawings that reflected the cool weather plantings and the warmer weather plantings.
We would have planted vetch (a nitrogen fixing cover crop) in the fall and then turned the soil of the whole garden over the first day that we could in late winter. And I would be gathering the bags of oak leaves that everyone has left on the sidewalks to spread as mulch in the walkways of the garden. Well, neither my husband, Mark, nor I are 50 anymore. I have a little bitty garden in the Bay that I carved out of my lawn a couple of years ago. I planted English peas two weeks ago. They are jumping up because they like growing in the cooler, wetter weather. I know that they will be done in a few months and I will plant peppers as they finish. I already have herbs like dill, thyme, and parsley in pots on my deck. Basil plants, mint, sage and oregano will come in about a month.
So, if your thoughts are turning to a garden, I hope that you have some time to dig out the weeds, go buy some compost and garden soil (I try to keep organic - which is a whole other article), and start hunting for seeds or plants.
I found the first two items at our local hardware/garden supply store.
The Town Green
Good Friday, which falls on April 3rd this year, is traditionally planting day in this area. Usually there are no more freezes after that date. I have been witness to some very lively debates about planting tomatoes before Good Friday. I have planted early and usually had not much success. But the one time that it stayed warm we got a great crop!
I found a really good list of the tomatoes that will grow well in our climate on the Mobile Botanical Gardens website. Be sure to obtain fusarium wilt resistant varieties as this is a common plant disease here and a heart breaker. Tomatoes are really worth growing yourself. The flavor of a warm, peak ripe tomato is exquisite and doubly so if you grew it!
In the later part of the month, the ground will be warming. You can begin to plant the mid-summer plants which include: watermelon, peanuts, muskmelon, corn, okra, southern peas, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, some beans, and peppers.
I have found that growing herbs, flowers, and vegetables in the ground, raised bed or container is possibly the best stress reliever available. It is also a fantastic teaching tool for children, if you have them. So, if you are going to plant a garden, I wish you luck, fertile soil, lots of garden worms and ladybugs, rain when you need it and plenty of sun.
For more home gardening information, go to msucares.com.