Piedmont’s Gardening To-Do List for March

Piedmont’s Gardening To-Do List for March

OK, Piedmont gardeners, you Zone 7’ers!!!  Whether you are a container gardener or full blown farmer, it is time to get your ducks in a row and get started!!!  WHAT???  You aren’t growing at least one edible???  Well then, roll up those sleeves and get started! (See other entries about Till-less gardening in the ‘Gardening’ tab)  It isn’t hard at all and there is such pleasure in putting food on the table that you grow, knowing that it is organic and fresh…there is nothing like it.  Who wouldn’t want to dig into freshly sauteed squash, zucchini, red pepper and onions???photo[47]  This is what Organic Gardening advises us to do during the month of March:

  • In the middle of the month, plant a row of Swiss chard. Tender stalks will be ready to harvest in mid-May—and the plants will keep producing all summer.
  • Also in midmonth, sow other hardy vegetables, such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi, radishes, leaf lettuces, and turnips.
  • Transplant onions, shallots, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, white potatoes and asparagus crowns to the garden.
  • Set out herbs, such as rosemary, chives, and thyme—but not tender basil!

I also have a book, Month-By-Month Gardening in the Carolinas, by Bob Polomski that I refer to as well.  He reminds us that we should:

  • Sow warm season vegetables in flats or trays such as eggplant, New Zealand spinach (heat tolerant), pepper and tomatoes.
  • Vegetables that resent root disturbance, cucumbers and summer squash for example, should be sown in individual pots or peat pellets.
  • Avoid sowing seeds too early or they may be ready for transplanting before outdoor conditions permit.  I use this tool to plan when to sow my veggies.
  • Put a sweet potato in a glass half filled with water and place it in bright light.  Detach the plants from the mother root when they are 6 – 8 inches long, pot them up and then plant them in the garden about three weeks after the last freeze, which for us should be somewhere around the last week of April.
  • Buy seed potatoes and cut them into egg-sized pieces containing one or two eyes.  Allow the cuts to dry and callous for a day or two before planting.  Plant them when the soil temperature remains above 50 degrees F.
  • Continue watering trays or pots of seedlings indoors.

I would add to these lists to continue making notations in your gardening journal about this year’s planning stages.  WHAT?*!? You don’t have a gardening journal/notebook???  Well, get one!Notebook - Picture with KeyTrust me, you will not remember specifics from year to year unless you draw diagrams, take pics and make notations!   Take a look at last year’s diagram and make your plans for rotating your crops to avoid pests and diseases as much as possible.

Yep, things are cranking up around here and I could not be more excited!  My mister is excited, too!  He loves coming home to fresh, organic home-cooked meals…even if his wife does have a little dirt under her nails and on her face every now and again. 😉  Hey…it washes off~

February Garden Plans in the Piedmont

February Garden Plans in the Piedmont

 Always wanted to try your hand growing a ‘crazy good’ vegetable garden?Edible Landscape 8 1 2011It is easier than you think and February is the time to start your plans and preparations here in the Piedmont.  Let me help you get started~

  • Prepare your beds for late February and early March planting, as well as spring planting.  Don’t freak…there is no need to do extra work like tilling, weeding or removing layers of grass.  If this is your first year trying “Tess’ Till-less Method” here are the instructions.
  • Plan where you will put your beds and what you will grow in them.  This post might help with that.
  • Take inventory of last years seeds and make a list of what you will need for spring/summer.
  • Prune fruit trees and bushes when temperatures are above freezing.
  • Start seeds indoors.  Aerogarden with Cilantro and Dill 4 2011I use an Aerogarden as my starter; however, you can certainly use a starting tray and seed starting potting mix.  A lid will help keep humidity in and the seeds moist when they sprout.  Spinach, cabbage, kale, lettuce,  broccoli and cauliflower all grow well when started as transplants inside.  When you see the first crocus open, consider it time to set out transplants of lettuce, cabbages, and onions; cover them on cold nights.
  • I also start my basil, parsley and other herbs indoors at this time as well.  My sweet marjoram, oregano and thyme are all planted in the ground on my front lawn and come back every year.  The rosemary flourishes all year long, as does bay leaf (thus far anyhow – see the rosemary in the lefthand corner of the picture below – swiss chard doesn’t look so hot 😉 but, believe it or not, that is from LAST WINTER so it certainly performed well – bless it’s heart).IMG_3194
  • This is the time to start your annual flower seeds like petunias, marigolds and zinnias inside.
  • Later on in the month, start warm-season veggies such as tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, squash and peppers indoors.
  • In late February or when daffodils ‘pop’, plant peas directly in the garden.  So yummy and super simple to grow!  You may want to cover with clear plastic until you see sprouts popping through the ground.  Use a trellis so they will have a structure to grow up immediately.  This allows for a bigger yield.
  • You can also plant radishes and cold hardy lettuces directly in the garden at this time.
  • Clean up!  This means cutting back ornamental grasses like lirope, raking up debris and composting when possible.
  • Check out and sharpen/repair your garden tools so you will be ready to ‘go’ on those warm, sunny days in the coming months.
  • Clean our your tool shed and make a list of what you will need for the coming growing season.  Do you need twine?  plant labels?  watering wand?  gardening gloves?  hat?

One more helpful tip…work your garden according to the signs.  This means that I use an almanac to plant, to prune and to harvest.  Watch for a post this weekend on when the ‘signs’ tell you to do these things during the month of February!  May sound weird but my grandfather gardened this way and, believe me, it makes a difference!!!

And there you have it!  Your February ‘To-Do’ list!!!  Now all you need is the desire to feed your family foods that you KNOW is as organic as it can be and a desire to get your hands in the dirt!  It does not take much space at all and  you can make it visually attractive by adding annuals, bird-feeders  bird-baths, pavers.

IMG_2460

Worked in among my ‘regular’ landscape are tomato plants, rosemary, basil and asparagus.  It is beautiful…so much so that my neighbors are on board and are planning their Tess’ Till-less Edibles on their front lawn this year as well!  It really is contagious – especially after you share some of your fresh, organic bounty with them!!!

Happy Planning and PLANTING everyone!!!

 

 

 

October Gardening Chores in the Piedmont

October Gardening Chores in the Piedmont

Now that the heat and humidity is in our rear view mirror here in the South it is time to start planning/planting for your fall and winter gardens.  For me, this brings about a feeling of excitement similar to that of my spring gardening enthusiasm;  however, I don’t feel that same sense of urgency and can go about this with a little more ease.  After an extremely busy summer in Tess’ Till-less Garden, let me just say, ‘ease’ is a welcomed change.

October To-Do’s

  • Bring zonal geraniums and vacationing houseplants indoors before the first frost.  It is always a good idea to clean the pot, as well as the plant before bringing inside so that you do not have any unwanted critters in your home.
  • Thin the radishes, carrots, and turnips you sowed last month; then sprinkle the bed with 1 inch of compost.
  • Dig up sweet potatoes before winter rains cause them to split and rot.  Be sure to harvest them before the first frost.
  • Harvest gourds, pumpkins and winter squash before the first frost.
  • Set out garlic cloves (for harvesting in late summer) and continue to plant onions thru mid-November.
  • Chives, coriander (cilantro), dill and parsley can be direct-sown in the fall in the milder areas of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain.  Did you know that chives and parsley taste best in cool weather?
  • You can also divide chives, thyme, mint and tarragon when new growth emerges if you are a Piedmont or Coastal gardener.
  • Sow late spinach to overwinter; it will resume growing in spring.
  • Clean up the blueberry patch: Prune broken or diseased limbs, and thicken the mulch with a layer of pine needles or shredded oak leaves.

 Be mindful of frost warnings this month and have your materials  ready for covering tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and other tender vegetables that are still producing for you.  Experience has proven that it normally warms up once again after the first frost so if you have protected your ‘babies’ they will continue to bless you with their bounty for several more weeks.

IF you are unable to protect your plants be sure to harvest any produce prior to a frost or frost damage.  Once you can no longer protect your plants and/or they are no longer producing, thank them for their wonderful bounty, pull them up and add them to your compost heap UNLESS you have been fighting insects or disease.  If you have been plagued with disease and insects (like many of us have this summer) I highly recommend that you put your diseased plants in your yard waste recycle bin, with a cover, and discard them.  Also, IF you have been plagued with insects that may overwinter, spade or turn the soil over to expose them to the cold in hopes of eliminating them.

And…there you have it…your October ‘To-Do’ list for your garden..now, get out there, enjoy these beautiful fall days and “get ‘er done”!!!  Happy Fall, Y’all!!!