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Southern garden chores: May  RSS feed

 
John Elliott
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Time to get all the hot weather crops in: okra, peanuts, sweet potatoes, anything else that's native to Africa. This year I'm trying some finger millet, also known in India as "ragi". I'm growing it intercropped with pigeon peas, also something that is popular to do in India. If we get some Sahel type hot here this summer, I'm ready for it!

And if we get non-stop rain, like we did last year, I'm ready for that as well. I have two types of taro planted, one in the dip between two hugelkulturs (or is the correct plural hugelkulturen?), so that should be one of the wetter areas of the garden.

I'm not going to start the 'Three Sisters' garden until mid-July; I figure I can still plant one then and have it ready to harvest just about the time of the first frost in November or so. And this way I won't have to worry about the squash bug menace that has been hitting us heavy around about June.

What hot weather crops are you trying?
 
Michael Grantz
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Location: Forest, VA
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Thanks for this post, John! At our farm in Roanoke, VA we are also starting to put in our summer crops. Going to try peanuts in clay soil (but with plenty of organic matter has been added) as well as chipilin, an edible nitrogen fixing shrub popular in Central America. I'm thinking we will try planting this with a heavy feeder like squash and see if the nitrogen can be shared with the companion. We are also trying a method of no-till dry beans used by Salamander Springs Farm, which in simplest terms involves broadcasting bean seeds and then scything a cover crop (rye and clover for us) over top of these seeds. Planting our 3 sisters starting this week or next, the first patch is covered with rye straw soaked with compost tea and the latest spring rain.

A few questions for you:

Would it be worth planting pigeon peas this late into the season?
I haven't heard many complaints about squash bugs in our area, but if I do run across them, have any tips besides planting later in the season? We also have that option in our climate, so maybe we will need a second round of squash starting in june.
 
John Elliott
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Michael Grantz wrote:
Would it be worth planting pigeon peas this late into the season?


This is my first season planting pigeon peas as well, so I'm not sure what to expect. In places without a freeze, they are often kept going for a few seasons, with diminished harvest as the shrubs/small trees get older. I'm going to have to get all my yield by about Thanksgiving time, which is when our usual first freeze is. They just sprouted this last week and are still mighty small, so I hope when the real hot weather arrives they will take off and produce.

The squash bugs seem to zero in on squash during May and June and then disappear in July, so I'm thinking the infestation is a widespread phenomenon in this area. If so, what ever companion planting and disguising with rosemary/oregano spray I do is going to be of limited utility. They will just wait until an opportune time after a rain shower and seek out and destroy my squash. That was my motivation for the timing.

The clay shouldn't be a problem for your peanuts. Georgia is well known for both its clay and its peanuts, so they get along well.
 
Alex Ames
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Location: Georgia
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Mr. Elliot, I am not growing anything exotic but tomato varieties, here are some Purple Russian Tomatoes that
have set fruit. They are supposed to get oblong and have good taste

Our Mustard green experiment has't hurt anything. I am going to brag later after my crop has come in.
image.jpg
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Mary Greene
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Last year I started the Pigeonpeas a bit late (Mid-may) and the winter came too early, so best to hold the seeds and start them earlier next year. The plants managed to make flowers but there was not enough time for the pods to develop.

That being said, even with the worst winter ever, I had two plants come back from the roots so in zone 8b there is a slight chance for re-growth.
 
John Elliott
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Mary Greene wrote:
That being said, even with the worst winter ever, I had two plants come back from the roots so in zone 8b there is a slight chance for re-growth.


Welcome to Permies, Mary! That's good to know. The pigeon peas are chest high now and have yet to flower. When winter arrives, I will cut them back and see if I can nurse them through the winter with a row cover.
 
Mary Greene
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Since I thought my Pigeonpeas had frozen/died from the cold I did nothing further to protect them. I'll be ready next time!

Your idea sounds good John Elliott. Perhaps add a thick layer of mulch to protect the roots.
 
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