In the Garden

Planting Schedule Review: Sept. - Dec.

Hand shoveled raised bed Applying black plastic to raised bed Chandler Strawberries planted in raised bed

Remember we are in USDA Hardiness Zone 7

I love fresh strawberries from my organic garden in the spring.  September is time to start preparing for these delicious berries.  First I till the area where I want my strawberry bed.  The photo on the left above shows the area and the raised bed I have partially built.  I pull two lines down the length of the area spaced three feet apart to mark the area for my raised bed.  I shovel soil from outside this area onto the bed area to create my raised bed.  When the bed has been built I place two drip water lines on top of the bed about nine inches apart.  In the center photo above black plastic has been pulled across the bed and is being secured by shoveling soil onto the edges.  Chandler Strawberries have been planted in the bed in the photo on the right above.  The first two weeks in October is the ideal time to plant Chandler Strawberries in this area.  They do well when planted in the fall but not so with all strawberries.  The raised bed and black plastic help warm the soil early in the spring which hastens plant growth.

Rye cover crop

 

 

Winter cover crops can be planted in October or the first of November.  I usually plant Rye and sometimes Vetch and Austrian Winter Peas.  Cover crops protect the soil and  prevent erosion.  When turned under in the spring they add organic matter to the soil.

 

 

Garlic can be planted in November or December.  I have found that this advice concerning garlic works well for me - plant on the shortest day of the year and harvest on the longest day of the year.  Garlic does well in a mulched bed as it does not compete with weeds very well.


Planting schedule - July & August

Savoy Cabbage    Broccoli    Chinese CabbageCrisp Savoy Cabbage, delicious Broccoli, Chinese cabbage and Collards - It's time to start the fall garden!  

July     

      The first or second week of July I plant broccoli, cabbage, and collard seed in plug trays to grow plants for the home garden.  Also tomato seeds are planted in July to grow plants for the fall crop in the greenhouse.

      My seeds germinate under florescent  lights and once they reach appropriate size I put them in 3 inch pots and take them to the greenhouse.

      Carrot seeds can be planted directly in the garden this month for carrots that will overwinter in the garden.  Garden soil can be amended with peat moss and compost to make a loose bed for carrots to grow in.  I add one pint of lime for each 5 gallons of peat moss to balance the acidity.  Also potatoes can be planted in the garden for fall harvested potatoes.  They may not grow as well as spring planted potatoes but are still good.  I mulch them heavily to keep the soil as cool as possible.

August

Broccoli  Cabbage, collards and broccoli  Greenhouse tomatoes                            

Remember we are in USDA Planting Zone 7
Fall is a great time to plant those green vegetables.  In our home garden we plant broccoli, collards, savoy cabbage and Chinese cabbage plants in August. Lettuce plants can be planted as well.  It is also a good time to sow seed for mixed greens such as kale, mustard and turnip.  We should be able to harvest these vegetables through mid-winter.

This is also the time we plant tomato plants in the greenhouse for fall tomatoes.  These tomatoes should begin ripening in October and continue through December.  Vine ripened tomatoes for Christmas, what a treat.


Planting schedule - May-June

Corn Transplants           Sweet Banana Pepper           Home Garden

May

Tomato seed can again be planted in flats to grow your own plants to extend the tomato harvest.

Green bean, lima bean, butterbean, cucumber, okra, squash, zucchini, watermelon, corn and canteloupe seed can now be planted directly in the garden.

Tomato, pepper, watermelon, canteloupe, corn, pumpkin and okra plants can now be planted in the garden.

We are in USDA hardiness zone 7.
June

Continual planting will help insure a long harvest from your garden.  After your spring vegetables and strawberries are harvested you can now use that space to plant more summer vegetables.


Crowder peas, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, October beans and butternut squash do well when planted in June.  This month is also a good time to plant second plantings of tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans and squash.

Uwharrie Farm Planting Schedule: March - April

 freshly dug potatoes       Broccoli       Tomatoes      

 We are in USDA Planting Zone 7  

Spring is almost here!  It is time to review the planting schedule for March - April

Plant tomato, pepper, watermelon, canteloupe, cucumber, okra and pumpkin seed in 3 inch plant pots to grow your own plants for the summer garden.  Corn can be planted in smaller plant cells.  Place pots and  plant cells in a greenhouse or approximately 2 inches under florescent lights.  Watermelon, canteloupe, cucumber, okra and pumpkin seed can be planted directly in the garden later, however growing plants in pots gives me a head start before the outdoor temperatures are warm enough.

Plant carrot, beet, and garden pea seed directly in the garden.

Plant cabbage, lettuce, onion, broccoli and strawberry (for berries next spring) plants plus shallots and potatoes in the garden.

Happy Gardening in 2010!


Growing Corn

Sweet Corn        Damon Morgan Kentucky Butcher Corn

 

      Scientists believe people living in central Mexico developed corn at least 7000 years ago.  As you probably know it was a staple in the diet of the native American Indian.  Corn is often classified as dent corn, flint corn, flour corn, popcorn, sweet corn, waxy corn, and pod corn.  Over the years many different varieties have been developed in each class.   Corn is a good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B5, folate, dietary fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus and manganese.

     I enjoy many wonderful foods from my garden but my all time favorite is sweet corn.  There is no comparison between buying corn in stores and growing corn in your own garden.  When you grow your own you can also by-pass the GMOs and chemicals.  Peter Whoriskey reported in the Washington Post, Nov. 29, 2009, that 80% of the corn grown in the US is grown from genetically altered seed.  Local farms and farmers markets are good places to buy corn if you can't grow your own.  Sweet corn is great raw, steamed, boiled, creamed, with beans and many other ways.  Breeder's Choice sweet corn seed has performed well for me and taste delicious.  Damon Morgan Kentucky Butcher corn is my choice for cornbread and corn tortillas.

 

Growing Corn transplants The first planting of corn should be planted after the soil has warmed and the danger of frost has past.  I get a head start by growing corn transplants which I plant in the garden when frost danger has past.  This also gives the corn an advantage over the weeds and eliminates poor seed germination.  I plant successive plantings at 2 - 3 week intervals through June. Growing corn transplants several times in succession provides a lengthy corn harvest.

Corn is a heavy feeder yet I have great success growing it in well managed organic soil with a small amount of organic fertilizer that provides nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.  It should be watered once a week if there hasn't been sufficient rainfall.   Raccoons love corn.  A good fence is your best defense against these masked corn thieves.  Corn earworms are annoying but can be controlled with a couple drops of mineral oil placed on the silk at the tip of the corn ear just after the silk begins to turn brown.  Using mineral oil before the silk begins to turn brown can interfere with pollination. 

Visit these sites for more about growing corn:

Whole Foods - Corn

Monsanto's GMO Corn Linked to Organ Failure, Study Reveals

Genetically Modified Foods:  Harmful or Helpful

 

 

 

 


Uwharrie Farm Planting Schedule: January - February

Greenhouse Tomatoes      Onion Seedlings

     Do you ever wish you could just start all over again?  That is just what we gardeners get to do every year.  The 2009 garden season has ended and 2010 is just beginning.  Last year's garden is gone and we get to start fresh and new in 2010.  Here at Uwharrie Farm the fall greenhouse tomato crop will soon come to an end.  Powdery Mildew and Botrytis Gray Mold have taken a toll yet we still had a good harvest.  And just think, I can clean out all the old plants with their problems this month and start all over with a fresh new spring crop. 

     In mid January I will plant tomato seed to grow plants for the spring greenhouse tomato crop and onion seed to grow plants for the spring garden.  Usually I plant the tomato seed in December, however, for various reasons we are running a little later this year. 

     Mid February is a good time to plant seed for broccoli, cabbage and lettuce to grow plants for spring planting in the garden.

Remember we are in USDA Hardiness zone 7

  

Christmas Harvest

Christmas Harvest

It is the week before Christmas and I am harvesting fresh veggies here in central NC.  How fortunate I am.  Collards and Savoy Cabbage have survived well in the garden with temperatures dipping into the low 20's on several occasions.  Tomatoes and cucumbers are producing well in our greenhouse.  One of the cabbages in the photo weighed 6 1/2 pounds with the other one close behind at 5 1/2 pounds.  The larger tomato in the photo, weighing in at over a pound, was about half the size of the one picked a few days earlier that weighed over 2 pounds.

The tomato harvest is about half done, the cabbage harvest is coming to an end and the length of the collard harvest depends on how low night-time temperatures go.  Feeding the wood stove that keeps the tomatoes and cucumbers warm keeps us plenty busy. (No need for a gym membership here).  This week I planted the garlic bed then covered it with a blanket of leaves and compost.  Soon the materials we've collected from the chicken coop and cow pen will become a new compost pile.  Finally, as the new seed catalogs come in, I am reminded of all the winters that I have searched through them, like a child in a candy store, anticipating the delicious treats I would choose to grow in the coming year.  Remember these catalogs are a wealth of information.

Merry Christmas and Happy Gardening in the New Year!


How to Grow Great Tomatoes

First Prize Tomatoes     Nothing says summer like that first vine ripened tomato from the home garden.  Now is a good time to brush up on your tomato growing techniques.

     Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, lots of vitamin C and many other nutrients.  However, don't be fooled, not all tomatoes are created equal as a test done at USDA Agricultural Research Service in Albany CA illustrates.  When 13 ketchup brands were tested researchers discovered that the organic ketchup contained far more lycopene than the non-organic.  Also as an organic market gardener I can tell you that our customers tell us ours are the best tomatoes at the farmer's market.  Flavor, texture and shelf-life surpass other tomatoes.

     You have heard the saying, you are what you eat.  Similarly tomatoes and other vegetables are what we feed them.  So how do you grow a first rate tomato?  First rule in organic agriculture, feed the soil.  Healthy soil promotes healthy plants which promote healthy people.  Now what type of tomato are you going to put in your healthy soil?  There are a vast number to choose from.

     Look over the seed catalogs and you will find tomatoes of different shapes, sizes and colors.  Other choices include determinate or indeterminate; hybrid or heirloom; early season, mid-season, or late season; and disease resistance.  I suggest you study over seed catalogs to discover what tomato varieties are best suited for your situation and preferences.  You will find a wealth of information in seed catalogs that you will not find by going to your local garden center and buying plants.  Burpee, Tomato Growers Supply, Totally Tomatoes, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Peaceful Valley are catalogs that I find very useful.   Of all the tomatoes I have trialed over the years First Prize and Health Kick have won out in my situation.  First Prize, an indeterminate tomato, is good for slicing,  has good resistance to disease and nematodes plus it produces an abundance of large delicious tomatoes.  Health Kick, a plum shaped determinate tomato, shows good disease resistance, is very prolific, resist cracking, has more lycopene than other tomatoes and is delicious.  It is perfect for fresh eating and sauces and because it is determinate it is easily trellised with a stake and weave method.

     If at all possible, grow your own tomato transplants.  Prepare a bed or row in your garden that is rich in organic matter and amended with compost.  If the bed or row has not had lime applied in the last 2 or 3 years you should apply 2 cups for each tomato plant and thoroughly mix into the soil.  Lime supplies calcium which helps prevent blossom-end rot.  The planting bed or row for growing tomatoes should receive 8 hours or more of sunshine each day.  After all danger of frost has past and the soil is warm, plant your plants.  Remember that tomato plants benefit from deep planting with the soil pulled up around the stem.  Additional roots will grow from the stem if it is covered with soil.  Apply mulch (leaves, straw, hay) to the planting area and trellis your plants as they grow.  The mulch helps with weed management and water conservation plus when it decomposes it feeds the soil.  Tomatoes need nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and a very small amount of boron.  I fertilize my tomatoes a couple of times with the following mix:

Organic Fertilizer Mix    Pour into a 1 quart container:  1/8 cup liquid fish fertilizer (nitrogen), 1/8 cup Biolink 0-5-5 (phosphorous and potassium), 1/8 cup Epsom Salts (magnesium; if you applied dolomitic lime to the planting bed you do not need the epsom salts as dolomitic lime contains magnesium), 1 teaspoon Borax (boron).  Finish filling the jug with water.  This is a concentrate and should be enough for approximately 40 plants.  Place in a hose end sprayer, attach to the end of your garden hose and water your plants after planting and  again 3-4 weeks later.   Keep in mind that this is a general recommendation.  The amount of fertilizer needed is dependent on existing soil fertility.  

     Keep the soil evenly moist.  Water deficiencies can cause blossom-end rot while too much water or uneven watering can cause cracking.  Summer heat can also cause cracking.  Choosing a crack resistant variety can help with this problem.  Watch for insect pest such as worms and hand-pick them.  In time you should be rewarded with delicious, nutritious vine-ripened tomatoes.

     If you have questions or comments about growing tomatoes, post in the comments section.

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Seed Starting: How To Grow Your Own Transplants

 

Seedlings under florescent lights  Seedlings outside on a warm, sunny day  Corn seedlings

The basis of a healthy transplant is a good soil-less potting mix.  Using a soil-less mix eliminates disease organisms, pests and weed seeds that may be found in soil.   I prefer organic and mix my own.   There are a number of seed starting mixes available at local stores including organic mixes.  You may want to experiment with various mixes or mix your own.

Basic Organic Seed Starting Mix Recipe

2 parts Compost

3 parts Sphagnum Peat Moss

1 part Perlite

1 part Vermiculite (optional)

Add per every 8 gallons of mix:

½ cup Bone Meal (Phosphorous)

1 ½  cups Dolomitic Limestone (Raises soil pH and provides calcium and magnesium)

½ cup Blood Meal (Nitrogen)

½ cup Kelp Meal (Nitrogen, potassium and minerals)

Mix thoroughly and add enough water to moisten well.

If you can't find organic fertilizers locally Espoma and Peaceful Valley Farm Supply have a wide selection to choose from.

Put seed starting mix in plant cells or 3 inch pots and add seed.  As a general rule cover the seed with a layer of mix that is 4 times the width of the seed.  Place in a sunny window, a greenhouse, or under florescent lights.  Keep evenly moist.  Most vegetables will grow quite nicely at temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees  with 8 hours or more of sunlight or light from florescent bulbs.

Growing transplants rather than direct seeding can give you a head start on the growing season.  Transplants in the garden also have an advantage over the smaller weeds that germinate around them which makes weeding easier.  Planting corn at 2 week intervals will give you an extended harvest.  Using corn transplants rather than direct seeding makes better use of your garden area.  No space is wasted because of poor germination and seed is not lost through plant thinning.  I like to grow the following plants to transplant to my garden:  Onions, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, collards, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, okra, pumpkin, squash and corn.

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Choosing Vegetable Varieties

Aji Dulce and Pasilla Peppers, dehydrated and ground make a great seasoning    Damon Morgan Kentucky Butcher Corn for cornmeal and corn totillas   Health Kick Tomatoes, higher in lycopene

     As this gardening season is winding down we need to turn our thoughts to next year's garden.  Knowledge and good planning are the foundation of a successful garden.  Choosing vegetable varieties is a very important factor in determining the success of your garden.  Your hard work and good intentions will not be justly rewarded if you plant the wrong vegetable in the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.  Here are some things to consider when choosing vegetable varieties.

Flavor:  When choosing a vegetable variety flavor is one of my primary concerns.  Flavor depends on variety selection and growing methods.  Our customers were willing to pay more for our produce because of superior flavor, texture and keeping qualities.  We were often told our products were the best they had purchased.

Nutritional Content:  We are often told that more color in the diet equals more nutrition.  Eat the rainbow some have said.  For this reason I choose to grow yellow and multicolored corn instead of white, blue and yellow potatoes instead of white, and orange and blue sweet potatoes rather than just the orange varieties.  As for tomatoes, the main variety I grow for home use is called Health Kick.  It contains more lycopene than other varieties.  You get the idea. When reading seed catalogs be alert to statements made concerning nutritional content.

Productivity:  Some varieties are much more prolific than others.  Generally speaking hybrid varieties tend to produce more than heirlooms.  You should also consider how a specific variety may grow in your environmental conditions - length of growing season, soil texture, temperature extremes and amount of rainfall.

Pest and Disease Resistance:  Many varieties have been bred for resistance to certain types of diseases.  For instance Big Beef Tomato has the following letters beside the name in the seed catalog, VFFNTASt, meaning it is resistant to Verticillium Wilt, Fusarium Wilt: races 1 and 2, Nematodes, Tobacco Mosaic Virus, Alternaria, and Stemphylium.   I try to choose the most disease resistant varieties that have other qualities that I am looking for.  Also some varieties resist pest better than others.  One example is Neck Pumpkins.  Most pumpkins have a hollow stem at ground level that vine borers like to enter which kills the plant.  The Neck Pumpkin has a solid stem that resists vine borers.

Space Requirements:  If your space is limited you can find seed for vegetables with compact growth.  You may also consider growing pole beans and cucumbers on a trellis.  You can also find varieties that grow well in containers.

Drought, Heat and Cold Tolerance:  By reading seed catalogs carefully you can find the varieties best suited for your climate.

Length of Time to Harvest:  Gardeners in northern areas have a shorter growing season than those in the southern regions.  Consider the length of time until harvest when choosing your vegetable varieties.

     I would encourage you, if at all possible, to grow your own transplants.  By doing so you have much more choice in what varieties you plant in your garden.  Study the seed catalogs, they are a wealth of information, then choose what works best for you in your situation.

     From choosing the seed to harvesting, gardening is not a one size fits all application.  There are a variety of ways to grow a successful garden.  I suggest that you learn tips and techniques from a number of experienced gardeners, then choose the techniques that work best in your situation.  The winter months would be a good time to read some of the great gardening books that are available.  In his book, Four Season Harvest, Eliot Coleman teaches how we can grow food year round.  Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening is a valuable resource for beginners as well as skilled gardeners.  Eileen M. Logan's book, How to Grow Organic Vegetables in Containers, can be very useful for those of you who have limited space.  I encourage you to read, learn, plant, grow and enjoy!

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The Fall Garden, Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes and Greenhouse Tomatoes

Broccoli    Sweet Potatoes    Savoy Cabbage, Collards, Broccoli

I have begun harvesting broccoli and finished digging all the sweet potatoes.  Mice nibbled on a few of them but left plenty for us.  They will keep all winter in a cool area in our house (55 - 60 degrees).  Never store sweet potatoes in the refrigerator as temperatures below 50 degrees can cause cold injury and rotting.  Savoy cabbage and collards are still growing very well.  The rest of the peppers and neck pumpkins need to be gathered soon.

Greenhouse Tomatoes    Pest Control,Yellow Sticky Card    Greenhouse Tomatoes

The greenhouse tomatoes are pollinating very well without my help even though we have had a lot of cloudy days.  No serious pest problems so far.  The yellow sticky cards have caught a variety of insects.  I've seen a few white flies and a few aphids.  We expect ripe tomatoes in the first or second week of November.

After quite a bit of searching I finally found some Chandler Strawberry plants.  They should arrive the middle of next week.  A little later than I usually plant but it should be all right.  Remember its time to clean up the garden, take soil test (see your local extension office), apply lime if needed and plant cover crops.

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The Fall Vegetable Garden, Chinese Cabbage and Kimchi

Fall vegebable garden    Chinese Cabbage    Kimchi

     Fall is a great time to get those fresh green vegetables that we are told are so good for us.  They are said to provide an abundance of nutrition and even prevent some diseases.  It seems easy for us to neglect the green foods to our own detriment.   My fall garden consists of Chinese Cabbage, three varieties of collards, broccoli and Savoy Cabbage. The soil for the fall garden was mulched with hay.  I fertilized with liquid fish, bone meal, sulfate of potash, epsom salts and borax.  Pests have included a few worms, harlequin bugs, grasshoppers and crickets.  Until recently I have hand picked worms and harlequin bugs.  The plants are getting so large it is more difficult to find the worms so yesterday I sprayed with Bacillus Thurningiensis, brand name Dipel, to control the worms.  

     Chinese Cabbage was the first vegetable ready for harvest.  It is tender crisp with a texture I compare to a cross between lettuce and cabbage.  Each fall I like to use the Chinese Cabbage to make a few quarts of Kimchi, Korean Sauerkraut,  which keeps for weeks in the refrigerator.  Being preserved by lacto-fermentation, it provides good bacteria needed in our intestinal tracts to aid good health.   In her book, Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon explains the health benefits of lacto-fermentation and provides many easy to follow recipes, including the one I use for Kimchi.  

     Broccoli is almost ready for harvest.  After the main heads are cut, smaller shoots will grow to extend the harvest.  Because frost adds a sweeter flavor to collards, I will wait until after frost to harvest them.  Cabbage and collard harvest should last at least through January.

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The Home Garden, September 17, 2009 plus Greenhouse Tomatoes

Home Garden Sept. harvest          The summer home garden is winding down and the fall garden is growing well.  In the past week, from our home garden, I have gathered corn, green beans, lima beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and peppers.  The October beans will be ready to pick soon followed by pumpkins, collards, cabbage and broccoli.  The collards are sweeter after they have had some frost. I have picked a few worms off the fall plants and the greenhouse tomato plants.  If the numbers increase I will spray the plants with Bacillus Thurningiensis (Bt., brand name Dipel).  The last plantings of tomatoes and corn had a lot of disease and pest problems that are a normal part of late summer, but still produced enough to be worth while.  Over all the garden produced beautifully this year except for the eggplant which finally succumbed to the flea beetles.

     Now it is time to do the ground work for a successful garden next year.  Clean up the garden, plant the cover crops, add the fall leaves and lime if needed (this can be determined by a soil test, see your local extension office). 

Pollinating tomatoes 

     The greenhouse tomato plants that where planted in August are beginning to bloom and should produce ripe tomatoes from November through January.  In the photo on the right the tomatoes are being hand pollinated.  In the outdoor garden tomatoes are pollinated by wind, bees and insects.  To insure better pollination in the greenhouse we hand pollinate or release bumble bees in the greenhouse.  The humid days and damp nights of August and September create an ideal environment for powdery mildew to grow on greenhouse tomato plants, however this year it has not yet become a problem. 

     I have also placed a few cucumber plants in the greenhouse which should provide us with cukes into December, thought I would make more Bread and Butter Pickles.  Though not everyone wants to grow a large crop of greenhouse tomatoes, a small greenhouse makes a great addition to the home garden.  It increases the length of the harvest and enables you to grow your own vegetable plants. 

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Uwharrie Farm Planting Schedule: Sept. - Dec.

Hand shoveled raised bed   Applying black plastic to raised bed   Chandler Strawberries planted in raised bed

    Remember we are in USDA Hardiness Zone 7

     I love fresh strawberries from my organic garden in the spring.  September is time to start preparing for these delicious berries.  First I till the area where I want my strawberry bed.  The photo on the left above shows the area and the raised bed I have partially built.  I pull two lines down the length of the area spaced three feet apart to mark the area for my raised bed.  I shovel soil from outside this area onto the bed area to create my raised bed.  When the bed has been built I place two drip water lines on top of the bed about nine inches apart.  In the center photo above black plastic has been pulled across the bed and is being secured by shoveling soil onto the edges.  Chandler Strawberries have been planted in the bed in the photo on the right above.  The first two weeks in October is the ideal time to plant Chandler Strawberries in this area.  They do well when planted in the fall but not so with all strawberries.  The raised bed and black plastic help warm the soil early in the spring which hastens plant growth.

Rye cover crop



Winter cover crops can be planted in October or the first of November.  I usually plant Rye and sometimes Vetch and Austrian Winter Peas.  Cover crops protect the soil and  prevent erosion.  When turned under in the spring they add organic matter to the soil.



Garlic can be planted in November or December.  I have found that this advice concerning garlic works well for me - plant on the shortest day of the year and harvest on the longest day of the year.  Garlic does well in a mulched bed as it does not compete with weeds very well.

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Uwharrie Farm Planting Schedule: August

Broccoli  Cabbage, collards and broccoli  Greenhouse tomatoes                            
Remember we are in USDA Planting Zone 7
Fall is a great time to plant those green vegetables.  In our home garden we plant broccoli, collards, savoy cabbage and Chinese cabbage plants in August. Lettuce plants can be planted as well.  It is also a good time to sow seed for mixed greens such as kale, mustard and turnip.  We should be able to harvest these vegetables through mid-winter.

This is also the time we plant tomato plants in the greenhouse for fall tomatoes.  These tomatoes should begin ripening in October and continue through December.  Vine ripened tomatoes for Christmas, what a treat.




The Home Garden, July 30, 2009

Health Kick Tomatoes  Lima Beans and Mississippi Purple Hull Peas  Late planting of corn and green beans

Left photo above:  Health Kick Tomatoes are producing very well as usual.  Center photo above:  The strawberry plants were removed from this raised bed after the strawberry harvest was over.  I replanted the bed with Lima beans and Mississippi Purple Hull Peas.  Right photo above:  After the potatoes were harvested from this area I tilled the soil and planted a late planting of corn.  The row of large plants on the right are Tenderette Green Beans.  These tender, stringless beans have produced exceptionally well.

The Home Garden, July   Mulched with hay for Fall garden   Sweet Banana Peppers

Left photo above:  You can see the home garden is doing well.  Center photo above:  I removed the cornstalks from the area that had finished producing corn, cut the weeds with a string trimmer and then covered the area with hay mulch.  This area will be replanted with cabbage, collard and broccoli plants in August.  Right photo above:  Sweet Banana Peppers are about ready to begin harvesting.

Carrot bed covered with shade cloth  Home canning: black beans and green beans   Harvest from my home garden

Left photo above:  I planted four rows of carrots in this bed, covered them with a little organic soil mix, then covered the bed with shade cloth.  The shade cloth aids germination and keeps crickets and grasshoppers from eating the tiny seedlings.  Keeping the bed moist helped the seed to germinate in about five days.  Center photo above:  Home canned black beans and green beans.  I purchased organic dry black beans, soaked them about 12 hours in water, cooked and canned them.  Now I can go to my pantry, pull out a jar for salsa or chili beans, or I can just heat and serve.  The green beans are Tenderette green beans from my home garden.  Right photo above:  Health Kick Tomatoes, Rattlesnake watermelon, Missouri Gold canteloupe and cucumbers from my home garden.  This is the first year I have planted Missouri Gold canteloupe.  It is a real treat!  An heirloom melon with sweet, deep orange flesh that is very productive.  





Uwharrie Farm Planting Schedule: July

Tomato seedlings      Can you believe it, it's time to start the fall garden.  I  plant broccoli, cabbage, and collard seed in plug trays to grow plants for the home garden.  Also tomato seeds are planted in July to grow plants for the fall crop in the greenhouse.
      My seeds germinate under florescent  lights and once they reach appropriate size I put them in 3 inch pots and take them to the greenhouse.
      Carrot seeds can be planted directly in the garden this month for carrots that will overwinter in the garden.  Garden soil can be amended with peat moss and compost to make a loose bed for carrots to grow in.  I add one pint of lime for each 5 gallons of peat moss to balance the acidity.  Also potatoes can be planted in the garden for fall harvested potatoes.  They may not grow as well as spring planted potatoes but are still good.  I mulch them heavily to keep the soil as cool as possible.

     Remember we are in USDA hardiness zone 7
    

The Home Garden, July 2, 2009

The Home Garden    First Prize Tomato Plants  
As you can see from the photos above the home garden is doing well.  We have had plenty of rain and unlike most wet seasons there has not been much plant disease.

Strawberry Plants removed from bed   Potatoes have been harvested   Bumble Bee covered in pollen
     As seen in the photo on the left above I have taken the strawberry plants from their bed and replanted with Mississippi Purple Hull Peas and Lima Beans. 
     The center photo above shows the garden area from which potatoes were recently harvested.  This was the first year I planted Adirondack Blue Potatoes.  The yield was great plus they are very tasty and contain more antioxidants than other potatoes.  The Yukon Gold yield was also very good, however, due to heavy rains and rapid growth they have a lot of hollow centers.  I tilled in the leaves that had served as a mulch for the potatoes and replanted this area with my last planting of corn.
     The bumble bee covered in pollen, in the photo on the right above, moves from flower to flower collecting pollen and serving as a pollinator for our plants.  Bumble bees are practically our only pollinators this year.  In the past we normally saw a variety of wasps, honey bees, bumble bees and others pollinating our plants.  I suspect that all the chemicals used in the environment are taking a toll on these small creatures.
                                                                                         













 


      

The Home Garden, June 11, 2009

Vegetables from the home garden       Vegetables from the home garden
   The photos above show vegetables I gathered from my home garden on two consecutive days.  Fresh from the garden, savoy cabbage, yellow crookneck squash, asparagus, cucumbers, tomatoes, and blue potatoes!  They are not many days old, they were not grown by using chemicals, and they didn't travel 1500 miles before I got them!
    As vegetables age they lose nutritional value and flavor.  Produce grown in the United States travels an average of 1500 miles before it gets to your plate, using much energy for transport while losing flavor and nutrition because of age.  Fresh produce from the home garden is a jewel to be treasured.  If you, however, cannot grow some or all of your vegetables local organic farms are a good alternative.  Visit Local Harvest to find farms near you.

corn     cucumber climbing wire cage    corn almost ready for harvest
     In the photo on the left above you see corn at different stages of growth while the photo on the right above shows that the first corn I planted is almost ready for harvest.  In the center photo above cucumber vines climb wire cages saving garden space.


Sweet potato and okra plants      I received sweet potato plants that I ordered from Sandhill Preservation Center.  The plants looked good but they were not rooted very well.  I put them in soil in 3 inch pots to allow them
to root better before planting them in the garden.  Sandhill Preservation Center has a large selection of sweet potato varieties.  I order plants from them for trials. If they perform well in my   garden and I decide to plant them the following year I grow plants from the potatoes that I harvest.  The photo on the right has the sweet  potato plants on the left and Burmese Okra plants that I am trialing this year on the right.

    
    




The Home Garden, June 5, 2009

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Remember the May 16 post when I put sweet potatoes in the ground?  Now they have grown nice sweet potato plants for this year's garden.  The photo on the left shows the plants that have grown from the sweet potatoes that were put in the ground.  In the center photo the sweet potato has been taken out of the ground and you can see the roots that have developed on the plants (called slips because you slip them off the sweet potato).  Finally, in the photo on the right the slips have been planted in a garden bed mulched with leaves.  I planted in the morning of a cloudy day with a forecast of 2 cloudy days with rain.  This gives the roots a chance to establish in the soil before the plant is exposed to the hot sunshine.  If no clouds or rain are in the forecast, planting in the late evening and watering well should get your plants off to a good start.   Before mulching a bed for sweet potatoes, allow the soil to warm sufficiently as they need warm soil to grow.

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As you see from the photo on the left the tomatoes are doing well.  I continue to grow corn seedlings to make periodic plantings of corn to extend the harvest.  The photo on the right shows cabbage, potatoes, garlic, tomatoes and corn.  The garlic is ready for harvest, I've harvested a few of the potatoes, spuash and cucumbers while the rest of the garden is coming along well with one exception.  The neck pumpkins that were growing well suddenly died.  Normally I would think the problem was vine borers, however, neck pumpkins have a hard stem that vine borers do not usually enter and I saw no damage.  I removed the plants, planted more neck pumpkin seed in a different place plus made second plantings of cucumbers and watermelon. 




Uwharrie Farm Planting Schedule: June

Home garden        Home garden


We are in USDA hardiness zone 7.

Continual planting will help insure a long harvest from your garden.  After your spring vegetables and strawberries are harvested you can now use that space to plant more summer vegetables.


Crowder peas, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, October beans and butternut squash do well when planted in June.  This month is also a good time to plant second plantings of tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans and squash.




The Home Garden, May 16, 2009

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I'm picking strawberries from the home garden, what a treat!  The cabbage and potatoes are growing very well.  I haven't seen any cabbage worms this spring and just a few potato beetles so far.  I think the chickens we acquired last year may be responsible for the reduction in the worms and beetles.

DSC_0586  DSC_0598    DSC_0589   As you see in the photo above the tomato plants have been planted and mulched with leaves we collected last fall.  I used a stake and weave method of trellising for the Health Kick tomato plants seen in the foreground and wire cages on the First Prize tomato plants.  Because the Health Kick tomatoes are a determinate variety and probably will not grow more than 4 feet tall the stake and weave method works very well for them.  The First Prize tomatoes, however, are indeterminate and have the potential to grow 6 feet or more.  The wire cages give them room to spread and to grow tall.  If you have followed my blog you already know that the First Prize plants were growing in 5 gallon pots before being transplanted to the garden.  This gave them a head start and as you can see in the center photo above they already have tomatoes on them.  In the photo on the right you see I have placed a piece of black plastic on the ground and secured it by placing soil on the edges and on a few places in the center.  The plastic controls weeds well for plants with a spreading habit.  The Missouri Gold Canteloupe, Rattlesnake Watermelon and Neck Pumpkins which I planted on the plastic also like the heat generated by the black plastic.

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In the photo on the left you see a cucumber plant in the foreground surrounded by a wire cage to allow the plant to climb.  In the next two photos see how you can grow your own sweet potato plants.  I take sweet potatoes from last year's garden that have stored well in a cool area (not cold) of our house and place them in a trench in my garden and cover with compost and organic soil mix.   In a few weeks I will be able to gather sweet potato plants from them for planting in my garden.  I have placed markers to identify the four different varieties that I have planted, Beauregard, Red Wine Velvet, Maryland 810 and a blue sweet potato.

Tenderette Green Beans are beginning to emerge in their garden row.  This week I also planted pepper, squash, corn and eggplant plants.  Flea Beetles have already discovered the eggplant.  I will watch them to see if there is enough damage to require my intervention.


The Home Garden, April 28, 2009

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 Waldmanns Dark Green Lettuce                  Chandler Strawberry                      Purple Passion Asparagus

    We now have fresh tender-crisp lettuce for salads and sandwiches, thanks to the covers used to protect the plants from wind and cold.  Cabbage grown under cover is coming along well but will not be ready for harvest for several weeks. The strawberries planted last October are beginning to ripen: one of my favorite spring treats.   I recently applied compost and mulch to the asparagus bed I planted last spring.  It is doing quite well, however, I will only harvest a small amount this year and leave the rest to strengthen the plants for future harvest. 

DSC_0524    DSC_0526   DSC_0530         Tomato Planting                                          Corn Transplants                           Potatoes Emerging

   Last week I planted the First Prize tomato plants that were growing in 5 gallon pots.  They already have some nice blooms and small tomatoes on them.  Breeder's Choice corn transplants were also planted in a portion of the area where rye had grown over the winter.  The potatoes that were planted and covered with leaves are beginning to grow nicely.  Tenderette green bean seed also found a home in a garden row this week after being soaked in water overnight.   I have tilled most of the garden beds and trimmed the garden paths with a string trimmer.  Pumpkin, cucumber, watermelon, and canteloupe plants are ready to be planted in the garden with pepper, eggplant, squash and more corn plants not far behind. 

    



Uwharrie Farm Planting Schedule: Late April - May

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The average last frost date for central North Carolina is April 15.  This schedule for late April - May is for use after the danger of frost has past.

Tomato seed can again be planted in flats to grow your own plants to extend the tomato harvest.

Green bean, lima bean, butterbean, cucumber, okra, squash, zucchini, watermelon, corn and canteloupe seed can now be planted directly in the garden.

Tomato, pepper, watermelon, canteloupe, corn, pumpkin and okra plants can now be planted in the garden.



The Home Garden, April 9, 2009

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     The photo on the left shows an efficient way to plant potatoes in a raised bed.  I placed compost on the soil, put the potatoes in place, then covered the potatoes with leaves that I collected last fall.  In the center photo tomato, canteloupe, watermelon, corn, squash, cucumber and pepper seedlings are content growing under florescent lights until the outside weather warms sufficiently.  The tomato plants in the photo on the right that were planted earlier this year have been transplanted into five gallon pots to get a head start on the tomato season.

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Last week, as you can see in the photo on the left, I cut about half of the rye (planted last fall as a winter cover crop) in this garden area with a weedeater.  In the photo on the right this area has been tilled and the rest of the rye cut.  This is the garden area designated for corn this year.  When the danger of frost is past I will plant corn about three different times at approximately 3 week intervals in order to lengthen the corn harvest season.

DSC_0512   DSC_0513   DSC_0455         Lettuce and cabbage plants that were protected during the snow by covers like the one seen on the right are growing well.

DSC_0514  DSC_0516  DSC_0509           Strawberries are blooming, the blackberry plants I planted in early March are putting on new growth, butterflies are fluttering from flower to flower - all signs that gardening season will soon be in full swing.  


Uwharrie Farm Planting Schedule: March - Early April

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 We are in USDA Planting Zone 7  

Plant tomato, pepper, watermelon, canteloupe, cucumber, okra and pumpkin seed in 3 inch plant pots to grow your own plants for the summer garden.  Place pots in a greenhouse or under florescent lights.  Watermelon, canteloupe, cucumber, okra and pumpkin seed can be planted directly in the garden later however growing plants gives me a head start before the outdoor temperatures are warm enough.

Plant carrot, beet, and garden pea seed directly in the garden.

Plant cabbage, lettuce, onion, broccoli and strawberry (for berries next spring) plants plus shallots and potatoes in the garden.


The Home Garden, March 14

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     Rye Winter Cover Crop                        Cover Crop Tilled in                        Chandler Strawberries

     As you can see in the photos above the rye winter cover crop was tilled in to make way for potato planting which I plan to do the last week of March if the ground is dry enough and weather permits.  The Chandler Strawberry plants in the photo on the right are just about to reach a very rapid stage of growth before they produce berries. 


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           I replanted the cabbage that was killed by temperatures dipping into the teens.  The lettuce under the covers is still doing fine.  I    fertilized these plants with fish liquid for nitrogen and an organic         liquid fertilizer with a 0-5-5 analysis - 0% nitrogen, 5% phosphorus, 5% potassium.





     We recently planted two new pear trees, Olympic Giant and Dripping Honey.  Also an Elizabeth blueberry bush was planted to replace one that died last year and three Triple Crown blackberry plants.  I  fertilized the pecan trees with zinc sulfate and organic nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium the last week in February.  This month iron sulfate was spread around the blueberry bushes to decrease the pH of the soil.  If you see blueberry leaves turning yellow you should suspect a soil that is not acid enough (blueberries grow best with a soil pH of 4.0 to 5.0).

379      As it has rained all day today it has been a good time to plant more
seeds .  I planted the following seeds in 3 inch pots and placed them  beside the onion plants under florescent lights to germinate.
Health Kick Tomato:  an extra large plum shaped tomato that is higher
     in the antioxidant lycopene than other tomatoes.  It is great for fresh
     eating and for making sauces.  I have also found that it doesn't crack
     as much as other tomatoes and it is very prolific.
Pasilla Bajio Pepper:  a thin-walled, slender, mildly hot pepper which turns
     from dark green to dark brown. 
Giant Aconcagua Pepper:  a very sweet large oblong pepper.  It can be eaten at the light green stage but
     is sweetest after it turns red.
Golden Marconi Pepper:  a three lobed Italian frying sweet pepper.  Matures to a beautiful golden color.
Sweet Banana Pepper:  compact prolific plants produce 5 - 6 inch peppers that are light green initially      
     then turn yellow, orange and finally red.
Aji Dulce Pepper:  this heirloom pepper is sweet and spicy.
Lemon Squash:  a heirloom squash shaped and colored like a lemon. 







        
    

Moving from the Fall Garden to the Spring Garden

 

DSC_0418               DSC_0420     The Seed for these carrots was planted in July, 2008.   When the cold winter weather came the bed was covered with leaves to protect the tops from freezing.   

     Fresh vegetables from the garden are a joy in the summer but I feel even more blessed when I can go to the garden in late winter and get sweet, tender-crisp, sweet, juicy carrots. I still have a crisp head of savoy cabbage from the fall garden in the refrigerator while sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes and neck pumpkins are still keeping well in a cool part of our house. 


DSC_0428   DSC_0416   DSC_0417        Neck Pumpkins                          Cabbage and Onion Plants                         Lettuce Plants


     Cabbage, onion and lettuce seeds were planted in January and grown under lights in our house.  When days are warm enough I put them outside in the sunshine.  There are special florescent grow lights you can use as a substitute for sunlight however studies have shown that less expensive white florescent lights work just as well.


DSC_0427      DSC_0419  DSC_0421       Tomato Plants under Lights                       Protective Cover                            Rye Cover Crop


     Tomatoes germinate and grow under florescent lights until we are ready to move them to the greenhouse.  I planted lettuce and cabbage plants under protective cover as seen above.  When temperatures dipped into the teens the lettuce survived however the cabbage did not.  When the weather begins to warm the rye cover crop seen above will rapidly put on new growth.  It has protected the soil through the winter and will soon be tilled into the soil to add nutrients and organic matter.