Spring is nearly upon us here in Southern Alabama and we have been waiting with eager anticipation! Waiting, not in the sense of twiddling our thumbs and doing nothing. No, quite the opposite! We have been busy! Just what have we been doing to scratch the gardeners itch?
This year we plan to grow even more exotic varieties! This is exciting as well as a bit nerve wrecking! Why? Each new variety, which are not native to our area, has its own list of pests, diseases, nutritional requirements – so on and so forth. Adjusting planting plots to address these needs is not always easy. Adjustment – it’s never easy! However, we have found that it is more than worth every bit of energy that we put into it. With blood, sweat, & tears – literally, we had the privilege of bringing one African Horned Jelly Melon close to maturity. The flavor is difficult to describe but I’d say a cross between Banana and Lime. We lost nearly every Jelly Melon plant. We did the most in trying to keep them alive but to no avail. Then we happened to find this one plant alive and doing well at the end of the growing season! It was planted in a pot and we had forgotten about it. It was hidden behind some large appliance items on our back deck. From this we learned that this plant doesn’t need so much attention as it does need partial shade and a longer growing season. Notes were then made in our planting log. Hopefully with what we learned we will find more success this year.
We have found, like many of you that the best way to ensure a nice Spring garden is to start in the Winter! Each year we have started earlier and earlier. We started in January this year and I thought that was early however for our 2019 planting we will likely start in December. It sounds crazy I know but consider a few fun facts:
- Peppers can take up to 28 days to germinate! Yes! The hotter the pepper the longer the germination rate! We have seen this first hand here at Bain Home Gardens and we while we hate it there is little that can really be done to change it. Once the peppers break ground you can expect produce to take anywhere from 60 – 150 days depending on the variety! Who has that kind of time to wait – so start early!
- Tomatoes, while quicker to germinate, will still take anywhere from 60 – 90 days to give you your first ripe tomato. There are two types: Determinate & Indeterminate.
Determinate: These are more of the bush variety types that usually do not grow past around 4 feet. They make all of their tomatoes at once and when that harvest is done, expect no more produce. These are great if you are looking to do canning for the year. Just be prepared. Depending on which variety of determinate tomato you plant and how many, you could be in for a LONG DAY’s WORK!
Indeterminate: These guys give you a steady harvest all year-long, usually right up until the first frost! Since the growing phase is much longer, expect these to grow to upwards of 8 feet! I’m sure someone has grown bigger but 8 feet is as high as I’ve personally seen them grow. If you time your plantings just right then you could set yourself to harvest tomatoes Spring – first frost!
These are just a few of the things that have kept us busy and scratching that gardeners itch over the last month and a half. With the addition of our CSA baby – Kith & Kin – even more work is being done to stay ahead of the demand for pesticide and chemical free, non-GMO, organic produce! This adventure is in full swing! Stay tuned!