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~

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!!!

 

Tess’ Till-less Technique

Tess’ Till-less Technique

There has been quite a bit of interest regarding my ‘Till-less’ garden method.  Since I was creating a new space this morning for several tomato plants I decided to document and share with you step-by-step.

As you can tell it was EARLY this morning – thanks to our Southern heat and humidity, I have to get out there before it gets too hot!

I am using newspaper this morning but you can use cardboard if you choose.  Newspaper takes less time as you can soak the newspaper in a large container all at one time while you are doing something else.  As you would expect, soaking cardboard takes a bit longer.  I have an old cooler that I use for my newspaper that works like a charm.

  • Fill the cooler with water.
  • Separate newspaper by sections, as this has proven to be about the right thickness, and put in water.  Do not use the comics or ads as the intense color and glossiness do not work well with edibles.
  •  Once the paper has been soaked through and through, cover the intended planting area, overlapping the paper to prevent weeds coming through.
  • Once I have it laid out, I soak it once more with the hose.

For the next layer I use homemade compost.  (Will add a post on composting next.)  If you do not have compost, this layer could be fall leaves, mulch, hay, straw or sawdust.  For me, compost has worked the best but, due to the time factor involved in the breakdown of homemade compost, I have been known to use leaves or mulch.  I am guessing that I use about 2 – 3 inches for this layer.  Once this layer completely covers the soaked newspaper, you will need to soak it thoroughly as well.

Now for the top layer.  See how easy this is???

 

Peat moss!!!

This seems to be the magic that holds it all together so that you do not need a siding like wood, bricks, etc.  This is the kind of peat moss I use.  It is available at Lowe’s in our area.  I am sure there are other brands out there but notice this is 100% organic which is important to me as I am trying to be 100% organic in my gardening methods.

 

Once again, I put down 2 – 3 inches of peat moss and soak it through and through with a mist spray.  If you notice runoff, stop and go do something else and come back in a few to wet again.  Before it is ‘set’ there can be runoff and you do not want to loose any of this precious commodity.

 

 

 

Once your peat moss has been soaked, you are ready to plant!!!  For this particular bed, which is beside our driveway, I am planting three volunteer tomato plants, two basil plants and one petunia just for looks. 🙂

I cannot tell you how many volunteer tomato plants came up this year.  I once heard that volunteers will not produce.  Not true!  I did an experiment last year with one of the volunteers that turned out to be my best-producing Roma tomato plant of the season.   I am excited to see what the three of these will have in store for us.

And there you have it…it is just that simple and the rewards are many…

I planted these green beans the first weekend in May using this same method and this is what they look like now.  Notice there are no containers whatsoever and everything stays right where it is supposed to be.

Because I am gardening on my front lawn with limited space, I overpopulate everything I plant for greater yields.  Based on my experience you really don’t need that much space between plants.  Doing it this way also helps eliminate some of the weeds and who doesn’t like that?

Here is a view of ‘most’ of my garden…I say most because I plant around my lamppost (asparagus, rosemary, tomatoes) and mailbox (Scarlet runners, chocolate mint, asparagus).  I am still waiting on my sweet potato slips which will fill the void you see in the front row.  As you can see I like to add in some ornamental plants just to dress things up a bit.  After all, it is on my front lawn.  🙂

That’s all there is to Tess’ Till-less Garden which  is a combination of several methods I have  implemented; otherwise known as ‘Lasagna Gardening’ and ‘Square Foot Gardening’.  You just have to get out there and get started and, before you know it, you will have 5 rows and be putting edibles in every nook and cranny…because YOU CAN!  Enjoy y’all!!!  Time for me to get outside~