Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gardening in The New Orleans Area and Lemons

Again, two topics - one blog post. 

I receive lots of questions about gardening in our zone and unique environment.  Gardening is very different here than most of the United States.  We have very few freezes and can grow all year long.  Generic gardening books aren't that helpful.  So I am going to do a series on gardening in zone 9a (although I think some of my micro climates are a little warmer than this). 

Each land area is very unique and affected by bodies of water, mountains,  forests, it's very important to know your zone and try something new and different even if it may not be recommended.  Go HERE to find out your zone.  Talking to other gardeners and visiting gardens in your area is soooo important.  I often visit our local botanical garden and take notes on what I like and what's blooming or fruiting at that time.  Journals are invaluable.  That's one reason I started this blog.

Also, my eyes are always checking out what's growing in the yards as I travel through different areas of town.   I love to see what's growing in the community gardens of Bywater and at times the crape myrtles carpet the streets with hot pink blossoms and large clumps of banana trees hang heavy with their large purple blossoms and tiny growing green bananas.  The formal gardens of the garden district landscapes specialize in the contrast of color and form to accent their historic grand homes.  The Chinese fringe trees framing the wedding cake house are magnificent.  So spy on your neighbors.  It'll help you know when to plant.

Most of all....don't be discouraged by failure.  Use your failure as a learning tool.  Wear failure like a badge.  Because it means you weren't afraid!  But soon your successes will far outweigh your failures.

January Garden Notes:

Plant seeds for spring transplants (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and herbs)
Prepare beds for spring planting by removing dead and finished plants (compost them)
Apply organic fertilizer to beds
Keep winter weeds at bay (do not allow to seed)
Plant any quick growing winter crops such as lettuce, radish, beets and greens (feel free to push the envelope with other types of crops if you wish)
Begin to keep a garden journal (include photos, and seasonal notes as well as dreams and wishes)

Personal January Garden Details and Plans:

Currently in the garden:  A recent frost nipped the tropicals so they are tinged with brown.  I am weeding the raised beds and putting cardboard down on the paths to prepare for spring mulching.  I'm going to remove the dead bean vines and other plants that are ready to go and prepare those beds for planting by heaping compost and chicken manure on top.

I am going to try planting a late winter crop of lettuce and beets.  I always plan to faithfully plant lettuce every few weeks during the winter to keep a steady flow of ready lettuce, but I've been a bit lazy in that matter.  I'll plant a little now and a couple of weeks later I'll plant more and etc...until about the end of February.  Once temperatures reach 80 degrees the lettuce will taste bitter.  I do allow my lettuce to go to seed and collect the seed.

I also am preparing for spring planting.  I am planting tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds inside.  That way the transplants will be nice and large  by March.  I will plant them outside mid-March.  The tomato varieties I chose are Brandy Wine Pink, Pineapple (my fav),  Cherokee purple, Cour di Bue, and some seeds I received at a seed exchange:  Australian Heart and Amazon Chocolate.  Eggplant varieties are Cambodian Green and Fengyuan Purple.  My fav eggplants are the long thin purple Asian varieties.  I just like the flavor best.  I went a little wild on the peppers but I'm planting:  Cayenne, Thai long sweet, India Jwala, Spanish Mammoth, Tampiqueno, Anaheim, Texas Bird Pepper, and Fish Pepper Whew....

I plan to plant the corn near the end of February and keep my fingers crossed.  The corn does so much better when I get it in the ground early.  Virtually no pests.  This year I chose two non GMO varieties:  Cherokee White Eagle, Golden Bantam and some Red Flint corn I got at a seed exchange.

The large row garden is weeded and I plan to lift the plastic and add chicken manure and compost.  I am trying to keep this garden going without any tilling by using plastic mulch to keep the weeds at bay and each spring and fall I plan to add compost, mulch and manure to raise the rows and fertilize.  I'll let you know how my no till method is working for me.

Soon I will do a post on my complete planting schedule.

Pics of some of my seeds I am planting now.
A few of the companies I bought seeds from.  I also love seed exchanges.  You prepare little packets of seeds you grew and bring them labeled with the date (not everyone does this but I do as a convenience for others).  Bring empty envelopes and a pen for labeling for yourself.  Then exchange with those there to your hearts content!

Lemon crop is bountiful!  So I gotta save 'em.  The freezer in ice cube trays is easiest for me.  I then make what I want with the juice throughout the year.  I do believe I am going to look into canning the know those hurricanes and power outages aren't nice to the stuff in the freezer.

Look to the right...see what's laying again!  The chickens are laying again!

Cut in quarters, peel and juice!
Freeze in trays...
...and make lemon curd, lemon bars, lemonade, lemon yogurt....and Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake!  Possibilities...endless!


Hana said...

That's the problem. I have so many gardening books but NOLA is hot and humid. Not all plants can take that.
I am off to buy some seeds than :-) Bell peppers and tomatoes for sure.
THANKS again :-)

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

those lemons look good against those new eggs :o) I know your happy about that..I don't know of any other way to save lemon juice except the way you do it...unless there was a way to dry them first ..then grind them into powder..I haven't done that but it's logical if you have enough lemons to give it a test..

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info...going to see if i have any more lettuce seeds. Didnt realize you just keep planting more seeds. I thought we killed our lettuce when we cut it to eat it?? Jennifer

JeanSkirtGirl said...

Cool sister kristi love carmencaita