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Our six gardening seasons....yup, SIX...and how we utilize them


kappydell

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When we were getting read to move down here (Georgia) I read in a gardening book that it had six growing seasons.  Six????  Yes, I'm afraid they were right on with that.  As we re-learn our gardening techniques, discarding what does not work and picking up on what does, we are getting better and better at growing our vegetables.  Enough to give away and preserve in some cases (that is the wh0le idea, gang).  OK, so what have we discovered about our six seasons?  

 

Season One:  Early Spring.  This is when we can plant all those things we used to put in in zone 4...lettuce, kohlrabi, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.  But they have to be super short season cultivars, because they bolt in the heat.  And we had better have our own transplants, because there are not any in the commercial garden centers.  So we start our transplants now in Dec and January, to put out in March.  A few things go in as early as Jan (green onions, peas) or Feb (potatoes).  Good luck finding any in the garden centers, LOL.

 

Season Two: Late Spring.  This is when the transplants arrive at the garden centers....well some things, anyway.  The cabbages, collards, cauliflower show up, all the so-called cool weather crops.  Again, get short season ones, because it gets hot here and the pests are also starting to show up so get your pest control stuff ready.  Better yet, grow your own transplants and you can get them in earlier, in March or April.  Before the pests really get going.

 

Season Three: Early Summer: The tomatoes, herbs, melons and such (all the warm weather crops save sweet potatoes) show up at the stores.  They disappear fast, most folks have been looking for them since early May.  These do not last long in the garden, the hot weather shows up and starts stressing them, so you need to water often, and if your garden area has some shade to protect it from the afternoon sun your plants will last longer.  The late afternoon sun kills many plants, so dont believe the tags that say "full sun".  More like "morning sun" for best results.  The snap beans give us a good flush of production before they start sulking when it gets hot.  Of course, there are some heat lovers that do not mind the hot sun but you have to keep them well watered.  This is the time we start doing our garden stuff in the early morning to avoid heat stress on the plants, and on us.  The pests start becoming real ugly now.  If we are lucky we get a picking or two of zucchini before the vine borers show up and we have to start battling them.  And cutworms.  And potato beetles.  You get the picture.  

 

Season Four: Full Summer.  By this time, the potatoes are harvested, the zucchini have been removed due to borers (we have replacements if we plan right, to move to the other end of the garden where the lettuce, peas and early brassica have also been harvested & removed before they bolt or die from the heat.  In late June the sweet potatoes plants FINALLY show up at the garden center, and we put some in as they thrive in the heat. The okra takes off too in the heat, as do the peppers, melons, and tomatoes.  If we stay ahead of the bugs, and keep things watered, and we pick daily we get some nice production.  Snap beans slow down but keep producing; tomatoes are pretty good unless the nights stay hot, then they drop their blossoms until the nights cool off again, when they re-start.  We do not have room for corn and I wonder how it would fare.  Daily watering is part of the routine now - pick in the morning, water late in the afternoon when the shade from the neighbors trees comes over the garden.  

 

Season Five: Autumn.  Again, having transplants ready is a must now, as the garden centers won't be much help unless they are small and locally owned, and the operator special orders fall plants.  They will be cooler weather plants again.  We put in lots of brassica, greens, onions, and more radishes & carrots than we think we will ever need, because these will winter over nicely in our winter garden.  I obtained cultivars known for wintering over to try this year, but even the 'regular' cool weather cultivars worked well for us.  we had good results from broccoli cabbage, kale, collards, kale, kohlrabi, radishes, lettuce, beets, carrots and onions.  Harden them off carefully though so they can tolerate the afternoons, or find a way to shade them somewhat.  As the weather cools though, these will take off.  We pick the last of the squash (if any survived the borers), melons, sweet potatoes, any green tomatoes, and frost sensitive items before the first frost, checking my charts of "what dies at what temperature" as a guide.  Some things can tolerate light frost (32 degrees), some last until a hard frost (30 degrees) , and some can even handle colder temperatures.  We also get out our tarps and check them for holes (replacing if needed) so we can cover the garden when the temps drop down.   it helps to plan your plantings so things with similar temperature tolerances are closer together, for easier covering as needed for protection.  By the way, squash picked green will ripen off the vine if kept in a warm dry spot, where the sun can hit them, just like green tomatoes will.  I just learned this, and we got lots more squash  because we used this trick.

 

Season Six:  Winter.  This is my favorite gardening season, believe it or not.  After the first  frost, the bugs die, so the produce is magazine perfect - no bug bites. The weeds are nearly non-existant as well. The greens are gorgeous.  We put in lettuce (several kinds) spinach, and mustard greens along with the several kinds of collards & kale.  The mustard greens are much milder in cool weather.  We have had requests for turnips, too so we will put some in this year - summer grown ones are too strong for me, but they might be nicer in the cooler months.  The cabbages keep growing, but slowly, the broccoli keeps growing as well, but Brussels sprouts stop growing, though they survive.  Radishes thrive, so be sure to have extra seeds, as they will grow fast and get eaten faster.  Everything tastes sweeter grown in cooler temperatures. I was amazed at the sweetness of the collards, kale, and mustards.  Savoyed leaves tolerate colder temps than smooth ones so plant the crinkly chard and savoyed cabbage. I wondered when we moved down here how I would keep vegetables without a root cellar, but with a winter garden, I don't need a root cellar as I can just pick every morning.  I also like the winter garden for preserving veggies - canning and blanching are not as uncomfortably hot as back in July.  We use our tarps as needed  covering crops when the weather forecasts are for colder temps than they can tolerate.  If we lanned right, most of our autumn plantings will tolerate cool temperatures, to varying degrees, of course.  Some will last all winter - this spring, for example, we were still picking spinach, lettuce, and our cole crops right up until April when they started to bolt.  By that time, the early transplants are ready to take their place and we are picking peas, radishes, early lettuce, and green onions.  

 

So this six season thing seems to be true.  We get all our favorites, but each in its season.  And fresh certainly beats paying top dollar at the store for poorer quality veggies.

 

Edited by kappydell
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Guest or January

If your potatoes sprout out longish nubs in December or January, go ahead and plant them.  Just go a little deeper; put no more than the tip end of one nub in sight of daylight.  They will grow.  If a hard freeze knocks them down, let it.  You are behind a piece of garbage at worst and at best it will resprout from a well-developed root system.  We like to plant one set of potatoes on New Year's, which we don't really expect to harvest, and one on Valentines, which is the main crop of boilers to harvest from Mother's Day through about mid-June.

 

This is Ambergris borrowing DS1's computer.  I broke the screen on mine.

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33 minutes ago, Guest same as above said:

I don't understand the "guest" protocol, sigh.

Sorry, Ambergris, neither do I. 

 

If you are having trouble logging in, send a “Contact Us” note, and I will get it via e-mail, reply, & might be able to help you log back in.  

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:hi:  Ambergris.  Hope you can hurry and get on your own computer.  Can you not sign in as yourself on another computer...I do with DH's when mine is having trouble.  Or don't you want to?

 

Guest same as above.... :lol: 

 

MtRider  :pc_coffee: 

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On 7/13/2019 at 10:01 PM, kappydell said:

...if kept in a warm dry spot, where the sun can hit them, just like green tomatoes will.

 

You don't need to keep tomatoes in the sun for them to ripen - just put them in a brown paper bag. :)

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1 hour ago, Midnightmom said:

 

You don't need to keep tomatoes in the sun for them to ripen - just put them in a brown paper bag. :)

I forgot....I used to wrap them in newpaper & put in basement & they ripened there - fresh tomatoes in November! Yum!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Pulled out summer carrots - they are trying to bloom (I thought they were biennials!  Wow!), cabbages & broccoli.  Replanted carrots & onions in broccoli & cabbage area.  Tried radishes, but they did not survive the heat, so will wait to sow fall radishes.  Replacement zucchinis are coming along nicely so we may get some more zukes in a while.  Picking waterelons, okra, peppers and tomatoes, though the tomato vines are showing stress from the long heat.  Bought seeds developed in Fla to try next summer, hopefully they will tolerate the heat better.

Have picked lots of mini-butternut squash.  One person size - nice!  Sweet potatoes are starting to roam all over the place - we have to watch where we step!  
Plotting out where to put MORE beds this winter.....Collards are growing nicely, but the heat makes them a little strong tasting, so I'm eagerly awaiting winters' cold weather for its sweetening effects!  Meanwhile, I am denydrating lots of peppers, okra, and eating lots of tomatoes!  

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 9 months later...
Posted (edited)

OK....the winter garden was a winner.  We had 2 kinds of collards, kale, caggabes, broccoli, and mustard greens.  The lettuce we planted in Dec was grown & we picked the last of it by mid-May.  We had a ruffly kind, a bibb and cos.  The onions we put in during Nov plantings kept us supplied with scallions all winter and we picked the last of them in April, planting replacement onions in their place.  Sone of the "Beauregard" sweet potatoes I had in storage sprouted, so I rooted them during March.  We planted them in April, but they just sat there until the weather warmed in May.  

 

For the early spring season we put in broccoli, more lettuce, more cabbages and kale in early February, and started picking them in May.  The broccoli is petering out now, and I picked the last of the Jersey Wakefield cabbage last week (it made wonderful slaw - I use a recipe popular with many restaurants, a creamy one with poppy seeds).  Now the tomatoes are producing, but they are not turning red yet; green peppers are starting and doing nicely.  Vine borers got a couple of our zucchini, and we gave up and bought a drench to soak the soil & kill them when we replant.  We have replacements in the wings.  The yellow squash is producing, the borers either don't like it or have not found it yet.   We also put in tomatoes, they are indeterminate.  I told CM when she prunes out the suckers to save them and we will root them for replacements just in case we have disease or bug issues.  The green beans are giving us a nice picking  every other day.  Some I cook fresh, some I freeze.  Carrots have not come up yet.  Okra sprouted once it got warm enough.  CM does not like it so I only put in a half row (4 plants) which is enough for me.  I am thinking of maybe planting more carrots in a pot, just to see how they do. 

 

As summer progresses we will battle bugs & diseases as usual.  Keeping things watered is also an issue - CM has to water every other day or so.  Our potatoes are getting "hollow heart": which is a watering issue, so we are attempting to increase the water to maybe get some good taters along with the hollow ones.  We can always hope.  

 

As for flowers, the lilies are spectacular....we hate 5 foot tall trumpet lilies and smaller ones too  But it is the big ones that make people honk and wave.  Can you imagine a bouquet of 5 foot tall flowers with 6 x 8 inch blossoms?   They multiply, so maybe in a year or two I will try cutting them for gigantic bouquets.  Gotta find some equally huge vases, LOL.

Edited by kappydell
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  • 1 month later...

It appears we are entering season 3 with a vengeance.....HOT and dry.  Our tomatoes and snap beans are refusing to produce and they are looking rather peaked.  (two syllable versioin...peek-ed not as in the top condition, LOL.)  Time to start our autumn transplants, under partial shade of course.  Se need to find a way to rig some shade (yes I know I sound like a brokoen record).  Meanwhile we are replanting areas where squash succumbed to borers and wilt with carrots and onions. We pick squash until they quit, then as they succumb we pull them out.  Cabbages are all picked, lettuce is also, so I guess it is mustard's turn.  As potato vines dry down we are digging potatoes.  They are pretty good this year only about 10% have disease.  We are trying to master the tricks for growing them here, and it looks like part of it is to plant short season ones and do multiple plantings.  

 

we are also using a sprinkler nightly.  Mary likes to hand water, but it is too humid for her to stand out for optimum watering amounts.  The okra is starting to bud out, blooming will begin soon; the sweet potatoes are trying for world domination in the garden zone.  The lack of rain killed one of our blueberry bushes; hopefully the apple trees will hang in there.  The pomegranate needs transplanting, but we are uncertain where to put it.  Partial shade or full sun?  How much clay soil will it tolerate?  and so forth.  It seems happy in its pot meanwhile.  I don't think it is a wicking pot candidate, as they max out at 50 feet tall.  I wonder if a wicking clay hole (huge of course) would work?  Hmmmm.  I am trying to multiply cuttings from my rosemary bush for landscaping.  They seem hardy to our heat and smell soooo good when you brush against them.  If corn bore more prolifically I'd put some in to see how it weathers this hot/humid season.  

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We say peaked here too. With a little hint of a southern drawl.

If we've worked hard and are 'tard' it comes out PEEE-kuhhh-d.  

But if we are feeling quite chipper it comes out PEE-cud. 

By we I really mean me.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

absolutely with a drawl!  we got some more tomato plants today from the nursery - they are trying to get rid of them and is giving two for the price of one.  Since there is no such thing as too many 'maters, we got some extras to plant now, to bear into autumn and even winter if we cover them in time to keep frosts at bay around  December.  No seed potatoes there though, so I put some "littles" in the refrigerator to try to fool them with a short "winter" into sprouting for fall planting.  

Im digging out the mustard seeds for greens now, the collards are getting kinda frail, too.  I wonder if there are "summer" versus "winter" collards?  Maybe I'll try the cowpeas I have that make good snaps, just to try, since cowpeas thrive in heat while snap beans pout and go on hiatus when it gets over 80 degrees.  Mary says she knows where the carrot seeds are and she wants some of those planted for autumn and winter carry-over.  Yellow squash are succumbing to vine borers, but that is normal I have read, for this area.  You plant short season ones, pick squash while they make them, then when the vine borers hit you are done.  I read about one gardener who loves zucchini and she plants two cycles of them each year between vine borer hatches.  One cycle is enough for us.  Time to start a compost heap, I think....

I am getting requests for sample seeds from other seed savers in hot areas.  The latest one lives in Texas, looking for heat tolerant greens & tomatoes.  I have some I found that were bred in TX to withstand heat that she has been looking for.  Most places that have them only sell to commercial clients; I lucked out and found one that sold to regular folks but they went out of business, so I bought as many as I could afford to get.  Tomato seeds store well thank goodness.  

On the bright side the peppers are beginning to come through, both the green bells and the sweet long yellow ones.  Makes for a pretty fire and ice salad.

Edited by kappydell
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