|One of my six square foot garden “raised” beds.|
When you live in the South, April 15th means two things. First, and most obviously, you better get those taxes in. Second, and equally as important, it’s GO time for summer garden planting!
Frost is a thing of the past, and it’s best to get those seeds, seedlings and transplants in the ground before the harsh heat of summer blasts the poor things. Actually, they kinda like the heat, so don’t feel too bad for them. But, it’s good to get them established before the heat cranks up too high.
We’ve had a wet few days here in Charlotte, so this is a great weekend to get in and work that soil. It’ll be soft for digging, tilling and planting. If your “dirt” is like mine, you’ll want to mix in some fresh soil and/or compost. Not much grows in the thick red clay except for crab grass (and yes, we’ve got plenty of that).
Beyond crab grass, here’s a sneak peek at what I expect to find in my garden this summer:
Tomatoes. Despite me love of the heirloom variety, with my inability to remember to water and prune on a regular schedule, we’ll be going the traditional route: Juliet and Black Cherry, Better Boy, and Pink Girl varieties. (Transplants. Too late to start from seed at this point. Dig deep holes and bury 2/3 of plants in the ground when transplanting. Yes, you bury the plant, pinching the leaves off.)
|Great visual on how to deep to set tomato transplants
Peppers. We like it spicy up in here, so we’re planting cayenne, jalapeno, and banana peppers. I hoping for plenty of salsa in my future. These small peppers thrive in the dry heat, so I’m thinking that they’ll do pretty well in my backyard. (Transplants. Once again, it’s too late in the season to start these from seeds.)
Cucumbers. We typically have a good harvest of cucumbers. I plant these in a separate bed from my peppers though, as they love water, and peppers don’t. They climb well on a trellis, so plant them towards the back of your garden. (We planted transplants, although you can sow seeds for these still.)
Beans. I like the pole bean variety because they trellis and take up less space in my garden. Plus, they are more expensive and harder to find at the grocery store. (Seeds. You CANNOT transplant bean plants. You must start from seed. You can sow these throughout the spring season for a summer-long harvest.)
Root Veggies. I sow radishes, carrots, scallions and onions throughout the spring and summer. Radishes grow quickly, the others take a little time. You’ll wanna start all of these from seed. Except the onions. Those you’ll wanna get transplants for.)
Sweet Potato Vine. I love to put these in pots. They vine so well and are beautiful all summer long, then at the end of summer, you pull up the vine and have a lovely sweet potato dinner!
Herbs. I’ve got rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavendar, sage and chives that I planted a long time ago in the garden. They winter well in the south. Chives and sage start easily from seed. Unless you’re an experienced gardener, you may want to get transplants for the others.
Some of these can be in pots too, if you like. I also just planted parsley (bi-annual: will last two summer seasons then go to seed) and mint (perennial: comes back every year). ALWAYS plant mint in a pot. On top of cement. That thing grows like a weed and will pop up all over your garden years later if you don’t put it in a container.
Basil. Yes, I realize this falls in the herb category, but unlike my other herbs, this one you have to replant every year. You’ll wanna get transplants of this by now, as it’s getting kinda late in the season. When the plants start to bloom, trim the stem back to where the leaves form. Also, be mindful: your basil will turn into a brown mess at the first frost. Whether at the beginning or end of the season, protect these plants during cool nights.
Lettuce. Lettuce is typically a spring plant in the south, but you can get heat-tolerant varieties. If you find these, you can certainly transplant them now, or simply order seeds and plant them yourself. These are great to sow in stages, as it’s tough to figure out what to do when 10 heads of lettuce are ready to harvest at once!
Marigold. I like to plant this ordinary flower in between all of the veggies in the garden. Not only does my son love the bright colors and it’s a mighty tolerant plant to both heat and too little and too much water, but it’s a natural pesticide! Win, win, win!
Well, that should keep you busy for the weekend. Plant now and reap the benefit this summer. You won’t have to beat the crowds to the farmer’s market…. it’ll be in your back yard!