Howdy Shakers! It's been a while since we've done one of these. How does your garden grow? Northern Hemisphere Shakers may be shivering under snow, perusing seed catalogues or watching those crocuses bloom; Southern Hemisphere Shakers might be harvesting fall crops or preserving their bounty. Whether your "garden" is an outdoor plot or a few plants inside, feel free to use this thread to discuss all your growing projects!
Here in Tennegeorgialina, the winter is mild and the ground doesn't freeze hard. Since fall-planted crops are a possibility. I tried some fall-planted broccoli, carrots, radishes, and peas, which are progressing fairly well as the weather warms slightly. I'm hopeful I'll actually have peas this year; last year I planted them in spring and didn't have enough cool weather for them to really thrive before summer. The broccoli even has a small head forming:
The peas look great. I sowed another few rows in January, so between the fall-sown (blooming below) and that crop, I'm hoping to get some peas before it starts getting beastly in May.
For spring, we've been preparing the beds. My Special Gentleman Friend hopped on the tractor and re-built this beauty, which is just waiting for the Seminole Pumpkins and Calypso beans I'm planning to plant there. We have several of these raised beds, and they work pretty well. I'll probably add some string and noisemakers to discourage the deer and birds. I also treated some of the beds this weekend with a Spinosad-based bait to (I hope) kill the fire ants that had built nests there. I hope it does the trick.
I've already ordered most of my seeds and a few live plants! This year I'm trying to grow more vegetables that are Southern heirlooms, like cushaw squash, that I hope will do better with the heat and humidity. I've ordered seeds from a number of companies; my favourites are definitely Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Seed Savers, both of which have some very neat heirloom varieties. I've started a few of these seeds in pots already. This year, I've been trying to save some cash, so I tried making my own newspaper starting pots. (I also started seeds in egg cartons and two-litre soda bottles, cut in half.) For the pots, you take strips of newspaper (about 3 thickness) and wrap around a soda can or other cylinder:
Once they're wrapped around firmly, you fold up the bottom and secure with tape. Some people fold it so well that they don't need tape, but I am not one of those people. Also, a photo-bombing beagley dog is not actually necessary for the process:
Plant and label the seeds as you would with any starting pot. After a few weeks, here are some pepper seedlings of mine. They're a bit leggy, but that's my insufficient light, not the pots. (Note to self: next year, buy a grow lamp!)
In other garden-related activities, I've been reading up on historical gardens. I definitely recommend Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden if you have any interest in gardens, anthropology, the Hidatsa, or First Nations farming techniques generally. I've also been reading The Garden and Farm Books of Thomas Jefferson, which include most of Jefferson's agricultural records and correspondence. And I also browsed through Mary Randolph's The Virginia Housewife (1824) which contains some fascinating stuff on early food preparation and preservation.
So, Shakers, how are things looking for you? Are you ordering seeds and dreaming of warm weather? Are you tending your pots indoors? Are you harvesting something delicious? How's it growing, Shakers?
Commenting note: Please remember that different people have different needs and priorities in gardening; for some, organic methods are a priority, for others, space or budgetary concerns take precedence, and the like. Thank you.