October To Do in the Garden

By Gary Crispell, EMGV

Bold colors and striking flowers of the tough-as-nails marigolds (Tagetes sp.) in the fall ACG. (Image credit: Gary Crispell)

I reckon we have seen the last of September and quite possibly the last of the 90-degree days.  So, I have mixed feelings about all that.  Being a devotee of the ancient Egyptian god, Ra, I rather like a temperature in the nineties.  Being a gardener, I prefer a little more rain a lot more regularly.  Camelot anyone? 

The Accidental Cottage Garden (ACG) would agree with the more rain more often thing.  It is sadder than “normal” (which is currently undergoing a redefinition).  Most of the perennials have given up and gone into early hibernation.  The only three left are the oft mentioned Chrysanthemum x ‘-Don’t-Have-A-Clue,’ hardy ageratum or blue mist flower (Conoclinium coelestinum or Eupatorium coelestinum–take your pick), and gallardia (Gallardia pulchella).  The marigolds (Tagetes x hybrid) and zinnias (Zinnia elegans ‘Canary’) have come back after some rain and much needed dead heading. The dependable sedum (Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ AUTUMN JOY) is showing off with deep red blooms. And that’s all, folks.

Despite the dry conditions, fall bloomers like (top left to right) chrysanthemum, hardy ageratum, and (bottom) sedum in the ACG continue to brighten up the place. (Image credit: Gary Crispell)

The gardening season starts to wind down in October unless you are doing some extensive landscaping.  So, here’s the list of stuff to keep you off the streets for another month.

LAWN CARE

Keep leaves from accumulating on newly seeded or overseeded lawns.

Keep those same lawns moist until germination then be sure they get 1” of water per week, ½” per watering.

Continue mowing cool season lawns (fescue, bluegrass, perennial rye) at 3 ½” to 4”.

FERTILIZING

We are essentially done here except for spring-flowering bulbs (daffodils, tulips, crocuses, etc.).  Incorporate a little balanced fertilizer (10-10-10 or equivalent) into the soil in and around the planting hole.

Store leftover fertilizer in a dry place for the winter.

PLANTING

FALL IS FOR PLANTING!  It’s the truth in this part of the world.  It is especially true for containerized and B&B (balled and burlapped) nursery material (trees and shrubs).  Planting them now gives them the opportunity to grow sufficient roots to withstand our now inevitable summer dry spells.

Want some color through the winter?  Think pansies.  This hardy member of the Viola genus will cheerily grace your yard with an almost endless display of delightful color throughout the winter.  The sooner you plant them the more able they will be to survive the coldest North Carolina nights.  One caveat; deer find them irresistible.  They’re like dessert after a hearty meal of azaleas.

Spring-flowering bulbs should be planted this month.  They need a period of cold before sprouting.

Peonies can be planted/transplanted now.

 If you are not planting a fall veggie garden, consider planting a cover crop such as red clover (Trifolium pratense) or winter rye (Secale cereale).  These plants are nitrogen-fixing (They add nitrogen to the soil) and can be tilled in in the spring.  Win, win, win.

Do you have a cold frame?  Now is the ideal time to plant a salad garden to keep you in greens all winter.  Leaf lettuces, green onions, spinach, radishes & carrots will keep you eating healthy ‘til spring.

PRUNING

Wait until after a killer frost (which used to come in October, but may no longer arrive until November).  Climate change.  Adapt or find a good therapist. 

After said frost it will be time to finish cleaning out the perennial garden.  Cut them back to an appropriate height which may be all the way to the ground.  Some plants have a “best” height and sometimes you get to decide (or guess).

Root prune any shrubs or trees that you want to move in the spring.

SPRAYING

Hopefully by now most of the pests have gone into overwinter mode.  There are a couple that you can still do battle with.  Lace bugs, especially on azaleas and pyracantha, can be active all winter whenever the leaf surface temperature suits them.  The other treatable pests are the scale insects found most often on euonymus and camellias, though they will occasionally find other plants to their liking.  I had some on a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) in a previous garden.  Both of these pests can be treated with a horticultural oil that will smother all the stages of their life cycle.

PROPAGATION

Are you starting new plants from cuttings?  Be sure to check them at least twice a month for overall health and vigor.  Water as needed.  (That’s PRN for the medical gardeners out there.)

If you are one of the fortunate few with a rhubarb patch now is a good time to divide the plants.  It really prefers colder climes than USDA Zone 7.  Rhubarb is a favorite in this house, but ain’t no way we’re movin’ north far enough to grow it.  Been there.  Done that and did NOT get the tee shirt.

OTHER FALL-APPROPRIATE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

Besides snow skiing and outdoor ice hockey, what isn’t appropriate for a delightful October day?  Ok, I’ll limit the list to gardening activities (mostly).

Make a compost pile out of the inevitable leaf collection on your yard.  The landfill doesn’t need them.

GET A FREE SOIL SAMPLE NOW! (For information on soil testing, go to https://durham.ces.ncsu.edu/2020/05/nows-the-perfect-time-to-test-your-soil/ )There is a monetary charge for them between November and April.

Clean and fill bird feeders.

Clean out any unoccupied bird houses to get them ready for winter boarders.

Dig up tender summer-flowering bulbs (gladiolas, dahlias, caladiums, etc.) and store them in a cool dark place where random rodents can’t access them.

Clean and lubricate lawn and garden equipment that won’t be used again until next season.

Go for a hike in the woods.  The Eno River is especially lovely in the fall.

Fire pits and s’mores come to mind.  (I said mostly garden stuff.)

Find some kids and carve pumpkins (around the fire pit with s’mores and hot chocolate).

Enjoy the crispness of October ‘cause it’ll be cold soon.

Happy October, y’all!

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Resources and Additional Information

Clemson University’s Home and Information Garden Center’s factsheet on pansies and Johnny jump-ups offers information on planting, care, and variety selection

For a comprehensive look at planting spring-blooming bulbs, see the online version of the The North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/extension-gardener-handbook/10-herbaceous-ornamentals#spring

Penn State Extension’s “Tips for Planting Cover Crops in Home Gardens” provides a great overview

https://extension.psu.edu/tips-for-planting-cover-crops-in-home-gardens

For tips on how to clean your bird feeders and keep them disease free, consult the link from National Audubon Society

https://www.audubon.org/news/three-easy-important-ways-keep-your-bird-feeder-disease-free

Article Short Link https://wp.me/p2nIr1-2MZ

Specimen Spotlight: Late Bloomers that are Right on Time

By Melinda Heigel, EMGV

Fall has arrived to the cheers of many. And although the crisp air brings with it the promise of brilliantly-colored leaves and happy faces of blotch pansies and Johnny jump-ups, I have a wistful feeling for summer when my garden is most vibrant with bright blooms. Of course there is a season for everything, but to my way of thinking, Mr. Shakespeare summed it up well: “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” But not to fret. There are plenty of “late-bloomers” out there that help extend the feel of the summer season just a little bit longer….

Autumn Rain Lily (Zephyranthes candida)

The autumn rain lily Zephyranthes candida shines in mid-September and makes for an impressive landscape when planted en masse. (Image credit: Melinda Heigel)

There are over 70 species of what is commonly referred to as a rain lily from both the Zephyranthes and Habranthus genera, and their bloom times vary. (They get their name from their propensity to bloom in their native habitat after rainfall.) But the white Zephyranthes candida is a late summer and early-fall perennial stunner. The showy star-shaped flowers (1-3″ wide) resemble the crocus. The rain lily’s growing habit is tightly clumping with grass-like leaves that are semi-evergreen in most of the Southeast. This plant is a low grower–excellent for front of the border specimens and fantastic for lining walkways. A native of Uruguay and Argentina, this bulb performs well in Zones 7-10 and is low maintenance, easy to grow, and has no serous pests. While it can tolerate partial shade, full sun is best for optimum flowers. Like all bulbs, well-drained soil is a must. Shielding the plant from hot afternoon sun extends blooming. Plant these bulbs in the spring after danger of frost has passed.

Yellow Autumn Crocus (Sternbergia sp.)

A member of the amaryllis family, yellow autumn crocus (Sternbergia lutea), also know as fall daffodil, is a cheery addition to the fall garden scape. (Image credit, left to right: Melinda Heigel and Nicholas Schwab CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Crocus-looking flowers typically scream spring, but not Sterbergia. There are many species of this bulb, but if you want a fall bloomer, don’t choose spring bloomers Sternbergia vernalis or Sternbergia candida. Other species of Sternbergia1 lend a bright yellow punch to your garden when many summer plants begin to die back and, depending on the weather, bloom through September into early October. Originating in North Africa and Southern Europe, these flowers start out as little yellow cups and open into full 6-petal flowers that are 1-3″ wide atop petite erect stems. The overall plant has a clumping form. Like the rain lily, the grass-like foliage can be a colorful gift to the winter garden as the leaves are semi-evergreen, usually fading in the spring. This perennial easy-grower is hardy in Zones 7 and above and prefers full sun (part-shade means less blooming). In Zones 1-6 gardeners need to take care to provide the right conditions for these bulbs to overwinter. There are no serious pest or pathogen challenges with the autumn crocus, and they are resistant to deer and rabbits. These small gems are great for naturalized areas, tight spaces, walkways, borders and in mass plantings. Gardeners can grow yellow autumn crocus by seed or bulb division. The best time for bulb division (the preferred method) is winter, during the dormancy phase.

White Ginger Lily (Hedychium coronarium)

The intoxicating perfume of the white ginger lily flower is sweet and honeysuckle-like. They are are often found in leis. (Image credit: Melinda Heigel)

Our own monthly “To Do in the Garden” writer, Gary Crispell, talked about his love of his yellow ginger lily plant in our September blog post (https://wp.me/p2nIr1-2DG). This plant can definitely lend a tropical flair to your late-summer and early-fall garden. Asian in origin, don’t let the name fool you; they aren’t lilies at all but instead are related to the ginger roots. There are many cultivars available in addition to the Hedychium coronarium.2 These plants grow from rhizomes (a structure that is much like what we know as a bulb). These plants have large lance-shaped leaves, white showy flowers, grow in impressive clumps 3-5′ wide, and are up to 6′ tall. Full sun and rich, moist and well-drained soil provide the best growing conditions. Most persist best in Zones 8-10 but there are some that do well to remain in the ground in Zone 7 if planted in a protected location with a heavy layer of mulch for the winter. A perennial in the right conditions, these plants die back to the ground annually. One plus in the late season garden is that the flowers are great at attracting pollinators.

Red Spider Lily (Lycoris Radiata)

Also know as hurricane lilies because they emerge when hurricane season is at its height, the red spider lily is a great bulb to underplant in perennial borders; it fills in just as summer blooms fade. Left, the spider lilies shoot up from the ground, and, right, open to reveal their amazing architectural form. (Image Credit: Melinda Heigel)

Like the rain lily, the red spider lily emerges from a bulb and is part of the amaryllis family. Native to Asia, this plant produces stunning airy blooms that lend great color, structure, and texture to the fall garden in late August and September. Full sun to part shade and well drained soil are a must. Don’t worry if they are slow to develop; sometimes this plant takes its time. The flowers emerge on spikes 12-18″ tall. Only after the blooms fade, do grass-like narrow leaves emerge. Like the other plants above, they can provide some green in the dead of winter. Like most bulbs, don’t cut the foliage back until it yellows in the spring; it’s photosynthesizing for the bulbs’ blooms next year. Plant this bulb in fall and if division is necessary, early spring is the right time to proceed. Spider lilies are cold hardy in Zones 6-10.

Notes

1–Other yellow autumn crocus include Sternbergia clasuana, Sternbergia greuterlana, and Sternbergia sicula.

2–Hedychium flavens features a yellow bloom while Hedychium auranticum has salmon-toned flowers.

A note on natives:

While I am featuring non-native plants, there are many wonderful native plants that fruit or bloom in the fall with gorgeous color. These include the American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempenvirens), goldenrod (Solidago spp.), a host of asters (look for genera Symphyotrichum and Eurybia as they are native to North America), New York ironweed (Veronica noveboracensis), and sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale).

Resources and Additional Information

University of Florida’s Extension site provides great information on many types of rain lilies, including propagation techniques

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/EP412

To read more on fall-blooming bulbs, read Illinois Extension’s thorough factsheet

https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/good-growing/2020-09-17-theyre-not-just-spring-fall-blooming-bulbs

For a closer look at ginger lilies, check out Clemson University’s site below

For more information on planting and care instructions for the red spider lily, click on the video below

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee. Note: in the video the spider lily is referred to as a surprise lily, another common name for the plant.

Article Short Link https://wp.me/p2nIr1-2Jj

Picking Peppers in the Piedmont

By Lalitree L. Darnielle, EMGV

It’s high pepper season here in the Piedmont, when the fruits of the various Capsicum species are ripening in abundance. Whether you’re interested in sweet bell peppers, scorching ‘Carolina Reapers,’ or something from the vast array of choices in between, there’s a lot to love about peppers and something for everyone. And, they’re an easy garden crop to grow in our area with some sun and well-drained soil.

Just a small sampling of the wide variety of pepper colors, shapes, and sizes. (Image credit: Lalitree Darnielle)

Pepper Facts

There are around 25 species in the Capsicum genus, but three of them are the most common: Capsicum annuum, including bell peppers, jalapeños, Thai peppers, and shishitos; Capsicum chinense, including habaneros, ghost peppers, and the super-hots; and Capsicum baccatum, the aji types such as ‘Aji Amarillo,’ ‘Sugar Rush,’ and ‘Aji Mango’ varieties. Less ubiquitous but still common are the Capsicum frutescens (most famous for being the species of the ‘Tabasco’ variety) and Capsicum pubescens (the cold-hardy rocoto peppers). 

‘Aji Lemon Drop‘ and ‘Aji Mango’(both C. baccatum) supported by tall wooden stakes. (Image credit: Lalitree Darnielle)

Peppers come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and levels of heat. You can grow tiny pebble-shaped chiletpins or nearly foot-long ‘NuMex Big Jims.’ There are stout, thick-walled poblanos and thin, super long, and twisty ‘Thunder Mountain Longhorns.’ There are smooth-skinned bells or Corni de Toro, and super-bumpy Seven Pot peppers. Ripe pepper color varies greatly among varieties – bright red, dark red, orange, yellow, peach, brown, even striped. Immature pepper color varies as well, from some that are so packed with anthocyanins 1 that they appear nearly black, to dark green, light green, and even white. 

Heat, which comes primarily from the chemical compound capsaicin and is measured in units called Scoville heat units, ranges from 0 (sweet peppers) to well over two million (‘Carolina Reaper’). Contrary to popular belief, the seeds of the pepper do not contain capsaicin and do not contribute heat. Capsaicin is mostly concentrated in the light-colored inner “ribs” that hold the seeds, as well as the walls of the fruit. So, if you want to reduce the heat level of a pepper for use in cooking, make sure to remove the ribs inside.

(Left to right) ‘Carolina Reaper’ (C. chinense) and a list of some of the most common peppers and their Scoville heat units. (Image credit: Lalitree Darnielle and Abigail Harper and Ben Philips of Michigan State University Extension)

Pepper Growing Basics

Peppers are annuals in our area, growing best when days are 70-85° during the day and 60-70° at night. They grow slowly in cool weather and need a long growing season, so if you’re growing from seed, it’s best to start them indoors in February. Pepper seeds germinate best in a warm spot, so place your seeded pots on a heat mat or other warm place like the top of a refrigerator. Be prepared to wait two weeks or even longer, as pepper seeds can be slow to germinate. Keep the seed-starting medium moist but not soaking wet. Remove the heat once the seedlings pop up, and provide bright light and good air circulation as the young plants grow. 

In late April to early May, when young plants are ready to go outside and the danger of frost is past, harden them off by gradually increasing their exposure to sunlight and wind over the course of a week or two. Choose a sunny, well-drained spot, and give plants 12-24 inches of space – peppers like to “hold hands” somewhat, but they also need room for air circulation. Afternoon shade can be acceptable, even preferred for some varieties like rocoto peppers, which are adapted to cooler mountainous regions and struggle in the Piedmont’s summer sun. Containers may also be used successfully – make sure your container drains well, and that each plant has at least three gallons of potting medium for best results. 

After transplanting outside, provide protection from any surprise late frosts – you can use row covers, or simply place upturned boxes or buckets over the young plants on cold nights. Fertilize new transplants lightly (according to the results of your soil test), and repeat once fruits begin to set. Provide sturdy support, since large plants that are laden with fruits have a tendency to tip over. Keep the bed mulched and free of weeds. Then, be patient! Some varieties will start to set fruit mid-summer, but it can take until late July or even mid-August for ripening to occur. Some varieties, especially some C. baccatum varieties such as ‘Aji Amarillo’, require a very long growing season and may not ripen until late September.

At the end of the season, pepper plants can be moved to pots and pruned back drastically to be overwintered indoors. Plants can be maintained in this way without need for light, then planted out again the next spring, giving them a head start on the season. Keep the soil just barely moist, and watch for pests like aphids.

Pepper Problems

Aleppo (C. annuum) cracking due to uneven water conditions. (Image credit: Lalitree Darnielle)

Peppers generally grow well in the Piedmont and have few major pest or disease issues, but they can have problems. Blossom-end rot can affect the developing fruits, and some varieties seem to be particularly prone to this. Usually this is caused by very uneven watering leading to poor uptake and transport of calcium. Sunscald is one of the main causes of blemishes if fruits are exposed to too much direct sunlight. Cracking and splitting of fruit is common if a period of dryness is followed by sudden wet conditions. Blossom drop may occur during periods of stress such as extreme heat or dryness. Root rot can occur in areas where the drainage is poor, causing stunted growth and failure of the plant to thrive. Insects such as aphids or hornworms may also feed on plants, and microbial diseases can occur as well. Usually, these issues are relatively minor. 

Harvest and Storage

For varieties such as bell peppers, jalapeños, and shishitos, it’s most common to harvest unripe green peppers, but waiting until fruits reach their ripe color maximizes their flavor and vitamin content. Unripe peppers may mature in color somewhat if held at room temperature for a few days but will not truly ripen any further. Store picked peppers in the refrigerator where they’ll keep for a few weeks, or freeze them for longer storage.

(Left to right) See the dramatic difference in color of unripe and ripe ‘Naga Smooky Rainbow’ (C. chinense) – yes that’s the right spelling! – and the stages of ripening of a ‘Trepediera Werner’ (C. baccatum), from white to orange to red. (Image Credit: Lalitree Darnielle) 

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Notes

1–Water soluble flavonoid pigments found in plants that can be black, blue, violet, or red. These colors are impacted by pH levels.

Resources and Additional Information

For more information on common types of peppers and pepper pests and pathogens, visit North Carolina State University’s following online sites:

https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/capsicum-annuum/

https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/capsicum-chinense/

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/insect-and-related-pests-of-vegetables/pests-of-pepper

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/blossom-end-rot-of-tomato-pepper-and-watermelon

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/southern-blight-of-vegetable-crops

University of California’s factsheet provides great additional insight on how to preserve and enjoy peppers. This thorough guide also includes several recipes.

University of California’s Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa’s 2022 Pepper Collection offers suggestions of sweet and hot varieties for the home gardener.

https://ccmg.ucanr.edu/EdibleGardening/PepperDescriptions/

Article Short Link: https://wp.me/p2nIr1-2HI

Garden Veggies Year Round: One Gardener’s Calendar

By Kathryn Hamilton, EMGV

An early medley of summer veggies with beets from a fall planting. (Image credit: Kathryn Hamilton)

It’s September. The last tomatoes might be hanging on for dear life on tired vines; the squash bugs have decimated the zucchini; if it hasn’t already, the basil has begun to bolt; a few pole beans might be producing, and an eggplant or two is basking in the last heat of summer. For me, it’s time to turn the page on a new gardening year.

Piedmont veggie gardening has two growing seasons: cool and warm. And believe it or not, in this southern climate, the cool season is longer than the warm season. In fact, there are actually two cool-weather planting periods:  September to February, and February to May. With a little planning and a small investment in reusable row covers, the Piedmont gardener can put a variety of fresh veggies on the table all year around. (Stay tuned for tips and techniques on extending the gardening season.)

September: Let the New Year Begin

My “new year” planting begins mid-to-late August. With summer veggies still in residence (but slowly succumbing to age and disease), I start cool weather leafy crops – lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and collards (which I pick leaf by leaf) in seed trays. Within four to six weeks, just as the temperature starts to moderate, they’ll be ready to transplant into the garden. I’ll also start spinach in pots on my patio.

Spinach starts in a pot. Some will remain; others will move to the winter garden bed. (Image credit: Kathryn Hamilton)

I don’t find it practical to grow cool-weather heading plants (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) from seeds. They typically require cool temperatures, which would mean growing them under lights in air conditioning in the summer or in a cooled environment in the winter. Additionally, because of the Persephone Period, it’s advantageous to have the stronger, more mature crops available at garden centers for a September planting.

The Persephone Period1 is the time of year when daylight falls below 10 hours. During this time, plant growth pretty much comes to a halt. According to the US Naval Observatory,2 the Persephone Period in Durham lasts between November 17 and January 16, and if you want to pick broccoli for your holiday dinner, it’s wise to get the largest plants you can.

With transplants, days to maturity starts at the time of transplanting. Depending on the variety you choose and the size of the plant, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower each take between 60 and 100 days to mature. So, plants put in September first could conceivably be ready mid-November or at some point through January. As soon as these veggies hit retail shelves, they go into my garden, even if it means planting them under the last thriving eggplant. (If this plant, in a shadier environment, grows slower than the others, I consider it season extension.)

(Left to right) This cabbage, harvested on New Year’s Eve, was planted in September. A section of Napa cabbage, broccoli, and bok choy, planted in September and harvested in November. (Image credit: Kathyrn Hamilton)

Then, I fill the space remaining with my favorite root veggies — beets, carrots, and turnips. Spinach gets planted in pots on my patio. If I can squeeze it, I’ll also add some lettuce.  And, if there’s still a bare spot, I’ll toss in some old lettuce seeds on the chance they will sprout and can then be transplanted into pots extending the lettuce harvest.

February:  A Second Winter Crop

The second cool season begins in mid-January when I sprout snow peas between paper towels. At the same time, I’ll warm the soil at the ends of my beds with a combination of water and plastic. (Water under plastic conducts heat better than plastic alone.) Once the soil is warm enough, depending on the year it could be as early as January 31, I’ll plant the sprouted peas.

(Left to right) Snow peas sprouted in paper towels. The tails are the beginnings of roots. The same sprouted snow peas about two weeks later. (Image credit: Kathryn Hamilton)

As soon as broccoli and cabbage are back in stock, mid-February, I’ll get them into the garden, and depending on what root veggies have been harvested, I’ll seed more beets, turnips, and carrots for continuous harvest through early summer.

March:  Getting a Jump on Summer

Cucumbers get started mid-March so they can go into warmed soil early-to-mid-April. This can be dangerous, as frost is always an April threat. On more than one occasion, I’ve had to cover tender plants. However, these cucumbers will start producing in May and go into early July when they’ll be replaced with a succeeding crop.

Tokiwa Japanese cucumbers started indoors transplanted on April 2. (Image credit: Kathryn Hamilton)

May: The Summer Garden Begins

Once the peas are done at the end of May, beans will take their place. I’ll plant bush beans in one bed and pole beans in the other. The bush beans will mature first, and the pole beans will follow.

Once the snow peas are finished at the end of May, beans are planted. (Image credit: Kathyrn Hamilton)
Carrots planted during a warm January spell harvested at the end of May. (Image credit: Kathryn Hamilton)

If the stars align and the weather cooperates, broccoli, cabbage, and the remaining root vegetables will be harvested by mid-May, and tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and eggplants will take their place. Again, if I must, I’ll tuck the tiny tomato plants next to the cabbage until it’s ready to harvest.

By August, my gardening year will end and in September I’ll start all over again. And while the following is not a full list of all that can be grown in the Piedmont throughout the year, you can find that here.3

My Veggie Year-at-a-Glance

TimingActionVeggies
Mid-AugustStart cool-weather leafy veggiesArugula, chard, collards, chard, kale, lettuce, spinach
Mid-SeptTransplant heading varietiesBroccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, collards
Mid-SeptSeed root veggiesBeets, carrots, radishes, rutabaga, turnips
Mid-JanuarySproutSnow peas
End JanuaryTransplantSnow peas
Mid-FebruaryTransplant heading varietiesBroccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, collards
Early MarchStart seedsCucumbers
Early AprilPlantCucumbers
Early AprilStart seedsTomatoes, eggplants, peppers
Mid-MayTransplantTomatoes, eggplants, peppers
Mid-MayStart seedsSquash, zucchini
JuneTransplantSquash, zucchini

Notes

1–https://lee.ces.ncsu.edu/2018/10/persephone-period-for-planning-perfect-winter-produce/

2– The US Naval Observatory offers an online tool that allows readers to view the duration of daylight and darkness on a one-year calendar based on geographic location. https://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/Dur_OneYear

3–https://extensiongardener.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/NC-Vegetable-Planting-Guide.pdf?fwd=no

At publication date, it’s too late to start the brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli) from seed. Find the strongest plants you can at retail. Goose them with some fish emulsion and plant them as deep as the first set of leaves.

This is an excellent time to seed beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, Swiss chard, kale, and spinach right in the garden. Read the seed packets for tips on increasing germination. Many of these plants will make it clear to May. Another option is to re-seed a couple of times during the year as you harvest.

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Additional Resources and Information

Master Gardener Tip: Did you know? You can find all research on a specific topic from North Carolina State University by googling:  subject+NCSU. Here are some of the links related to vegetable gardening.

North Carolina State University’s Central NC planting calendar provides a comprehensive guide to veggie planting

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/central-north-carolina-planting-calendar-for-annual-vegetables-fruits-and-herbs

North Carolina State University’s index of vegetable gardening resources

https://gardening.ces.ncsu.edu/gardening-plants/vegetables-2/

North Carolina State University’s Vegetable Gardening 101

https://gardening.ces.ncsu.edu/2020/03/vegetable-gardening-101-3/

For more on the Persephone Period, see the University of California Master Gardeners of Napa County’s factsheet

https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=28043

Article Short Link https://wp.me/p2nIr1-2F1

Upcoming Program Reminder

Kelly Norris to Speak at Durham Garden Forum September 20 Lecture

By Karen Lauterbach, EMGV

Want to learn more about an ecologically sound vision for the next generation of home gardens?  If so, join the Durham Garden Forum (DGF) online on Tuesday, September 20, at 7:00 pm to hear Kelly Norris, acclaimed horticulturist and author, speak at the fall 2022 kick-off of the DGF 2022-2023 lecture series.

Norris is the author of New Naturalism:  Designing and Planting a Resilient, Ecologically Vibrant Home Garden.  He will discuss converting turf to vibrant garden settings to increase biodiversity.  He will use his personal half-acre garden as an example.  It contains more than 120 plant species and a growing list of birds and insects.

Norris is an award-winning plantsman, and in addition to authoring several books, his work in gardens has been featured in The New York Times, Better Homes and Gardens, Organic Gardening, Fine Gardening, Garden Design, and in radio, television, and digital media. He is the former director of horticulture and education at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and was a 2015 Chanticleer Foundation fellow. Norris’s gorgeous aesthetics “mimic the wild spaces we covet,” and his natural planting style “supports positive environmental change and leads to a more resilient space.”1

The Durham Garden Forum is an informal group that meets once a month to enrich gardening knowledge and skill.  Meetings are on the third Tuesday of the month from 7 – 8:30 pm.  Meetings will be via Zoom through the end of 2022.  Members have access to a video library of presentations, and they also receive discounts at Durham Garden Center and For Garden’s Sake

Durham Garden Forum (DGF) memberships cost $25 per year.  You can access the membership form here (scroll down).  If you are a DGF member, you will receive invitations to register for each month’s meeting. 

Times and topics for upcoming 2022 DGF lectures are:

  • October 18, 2022; 7:00 pm – Leave the Leaves
  • November 15, 2022; 7:00 pm – Direct Seeding Spring and Summer Flowers
  • December 13, 2022; 7:00 pm – Proper Selection and Use of Growing Media

You can choose to attend individual lectures for $10 each.

Questions?  Contact durhamgardenforum@durhammastergardeners

https://durhammastergardeners.com/tag/durham-garden-forum/

Notes

1–New Naturalism: Designing and Planting a Resilient, Ecologically Vibrant Home Garden. Cool Springs Press.