submitted by Charlotte Sapp
It’s becoming more popular to grow your own, whether a large or small garden plot, or just some favorite veggies in patio or balcony pots. In our area, raised beds are also becoming popular with homeowners. Peppers, ornamental cabbages, other edibles can also be tucked into flower beds and landscaping on your property. Recent fall gardening workshops led by Matt Orwat, Horticultural Agent, gave instruction in the planting and care for a large number of vegetables that can be planted now for enjoyment during the winter months. Those participating got the benefit of classroom information in addition to hands-on experience in the demonstration garden. Another plus was the supply of sample vegetable seeds each person received.
A light supper was served at all workshops by Washington County Master Gardeners.
If you have had problems growing certain plants (“My tomatoes always rot in the bloom end.”), you’d do well to start with a soil test, easy to do and can save you further disappointments. Just drop by the Ag Center and pick up a soil sample kit, add samples of soil from your garden, send it off for testing at the University of Florida. It won’t take long for a reply that will help you with your soil needs. Cost of a soil test is $7. The soil pH determines how available nutrients are to your plants. Best pH range for vegetables in our sandy soil is between pH 5.8 and 6.3. If your soil pH is below 5.5, you might be advised to add two to three pounds of finely ground dolomitic limestone per 100 square feet.
Now is a good time to plant many cold hardy plants. Mustard, collards, turnips, lettuce and spinach are always great favorites. Good companion plants to be planted together are carrots, lettuce and radishes. Other good suggestions for the experimenting gardener are Swiss chard, squash, kohlrabi, and various peppers and onions.
Dig the hole for the tree much deeper and wider than the root ball. Rake some of the fill dirt back into the hole; this loose soil will encourage root growth. Save enough soil to form a berm around the area to hold water and mulch in place. Add potting soil and work into this fill dirt. Loosen the roots of the tree so no roots are in a circular growth pattern as they may have been in the container. Center the tree in the hole so that the root system is almost level with the surface; add potting soil to finish filling the hole.
Mulch generously! Spread it all the way out to the berm. This holds moisture and retards weed growth.
Many fruit trees, blueberries, and muscadine grapes can be grown in our area. Almost any homeowner can find a spot for a fig or satsuma tree and the rewards for even a few thoughtful additions to your property can pay big dividends in enjoyment later. If you have questions, or would like information on vegetable or fruit growing, call the Agricultural Extension Office at 638-6180 or go by the office at 1424 Jackson Avenue, ask for informational brochures or other help.