Tag Archives: organic garden

Still Too Early to Plant in Central MS

Everywhere I go, it seems, I bump into people who say, “I read your blog…. Have you planted your garden yet?” And I have to tell them: No, it’s still too early in central Mississippi.

Traditionally, down here anyway, the time to plant seeds was done by the moon, and around Good Friday.  I plan to plant the week after Easter, or the weekend of April 27 or thereabouts. (Photo by Jim Ewing, ShooFlyFarmBlog)

Traditionally, down here anyway, the time to plant seeds was done by the moon, and around Good Friday. I plan to plant the week after Easter, or the weekend of April 27 or thereabouts. (Photo by Jim Ewing, ShooFlyFarmBlog)

Traditionally, down here anyway, the time to plant seeds was done by the moon, and around Good Friday. For more than 30 years, I’ve always planted the week after Easter because we more often than not have a cold spell right at Easter, and I’m fairly assured that the crop will do well if planted afterwards.

This year, Easter is April 20. So, I’ll probably plant the weekend after, or around April 27.

The past two years, we’ve had warm winters, leading people to believe they can plant earlier than normal. (Although last spring was cold and rainy which didn’t do well for early planting.) Normally, April 15 is considered an early planting time. But the year before last, I probably could have planted in February and it would have done OK.

You want to plant as early as you can past the last frost, but not so early that the soil is cold and your seeds or plants just sit there and possibly rot in the ground.

Here’s a pdf frost chart for Miss.: http://bit.ly/f8QSAb.

For all states, see: http://bit.ly/i5SmsT.

As you can see by the chart, it’s a gamble to plant this time of year. As the chart shows, on March 23, for example, for Jackson, MS, it’s 50-50 whether the temperature will drop to 32 degrees and 90 percent that it will go down to 36 degrees. It’s only 10 percent, though, to reach 28 degrees. How lucky do you feel?

Sure, we could have a warm month and  you would be fine. But we could just as equally have an ice storm. Or one killing frost between now and Easter (which often is the case).

I’d just as soon not take the risk of having to reorder all my seeds or worrying if my plants were stunted, and would rather wait a little a bit to plant. It’s true that organic growers want to plant as early as possible to get a headstart on the bugs; a luxury that people who spray poisons can avoid. But having the first tomato on the block is not that important to me; having a good, healthy stand of tomatoes is much higher on the personal scale of priorities.

Most seed packets specify the proper soil temperature for sowing. Some plants do OK in cooler soils; some don’t.

For an ATTRA quick list of U.S. organic seed suppliers, see: http://ow.ly/sSsEm

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, and former organic farmer now teaching natural, sustainable and organic agricultural practices. His latest book is Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press). Find Jim on Facebook, follow him @EdiblePrayers or @OrganicWriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

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Organic Gardens Need Water in Hot Weather

June 27, 2012
Hot-Weather Watering

The hottest part of summer may require us to use more treated water than we may prefer. Chemicals from city water-treatment plants can build up and can also stunt microbial life in the soil. To help alleviate the chemical load, consider using a chlorine filter that screws into your garden hose. Filters are available at pool-supply stores or online. If you don’t have an untreated pond or rain barrels, this is the next best thing.

Frequent watering leaches nutrients from the soil. The best and easiest way to replenish the soil short term is by using a top dressing of worm castings. Just apply a thin layer at your plants’ roots. Find worm castings at your favorite local garden store.

Stressed plants may exhibit powdery mildew or blights, especially on tomatoes. You can remedy this organically by using Bacillus subtilis, a soil-dwelling bacterium that controls leaf blight, black mold, powdery mildew and many other diseases. It’s sold under various brand names, including Serenade Garden Disease Control, and is OMRI approved for organic growing. Ask your local garden store to carry this for you, or go online to Arbico Organics (arbico-organics.com).

In the end, nothing beats rainwater, but these tips can help your garden thrive in hot weather.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

Ewing was recently elected to the board of directors of Certified Naturally Grown, a national non-profit organization offering certification tailored to small-scale, direct-market farmers and beekeepers who use natural methods. Many growers who use organic methods prefer not to enlist in the U.S. government’s certified program; CNG was founded in 2002, at the same time the USDA’s National Organic Program went into effect to fill that gap, providing local, community-based third-party certification. It is not affiliated with NOP. For more information, visit naturallygrown.org.

World an organic garden when foraging

Whole world a sweet organic garden when foraging
Sept. 29, 2011
I was on my morning run the other day and saw something that almost stopped me in my tracks: a persimmon tree laden with fruit!
The reason this struck me so was that last fall I was looking forward to foraging some of the delicacies along my 5-mile run/walk/jog and/or bike route, and the weather didn’t cooperate and the trees didn’t bear much.
The previous year, Annette and I had picked bunches, and she used a tomato press to crush and strain the fruits and make a delicious jam and homemade persimmon bread. Yum!
But, beware. If you eat the fruit before it’s ripe, your mouth will pucker up with a sour/tart flavor that’s almost impossible to wash out.
The secret to not allowing the persimmons to have a bitter flavor is to wait until the fruit is so ripe it’s almost dripping off the limb. It looks almost rotten. Then, it’s meat is almost pure sugar. Of course, you’re competing with deer, raccoons and every other scavenger on the planet when they are ripe like that.
So, for now, I’m warily watching the persimmon tree in hopes that my patience will bear fruit!
Foraging seems to be big deal in urban areas these days. It’s not so unusual in rural areas – or wasn’t when I was growing up. I’m by no means a Euell Gibbons (Stalking the Wild Asparagus, et al.), but when I was a boy, I learned to gather wild onions for broths, pick sumac and dig sassafras for tea, and could, in a pinch, whip up some dandelion greens to eat (you can use them in place of collards for a nice casserole with mozzarella cheese and bread crumbs).
Over the years, I’ve lost several copies of my “bible” for foraging: Peterson’s A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants.
The ultimate forager may be someone who eats anything invasive (or opportunistic!) in the local ecosystem, thus ensuring a balanced local ecology of flora and fauna.
One such forager is Jackson Landers of Virginia who writes a blog called The Locavore Hunter (http://rule-303.blogspot.com).
As New York Times writer James Gorman notes, Landers “has hunted and eaten feral pigs, two species of iguana, armadillos, starlings, pigeons and resident Canada geese. He says that all of these activities will be chronicled in a book, Eating Aliens, and perhaps a television show as well.”
Many rural people of my acquaintance are familiar with the preparation – from shot to pot – of deer, raccoon, squirrel, possum, etc. (Where my dad grew up during the Depression near Vaughan was called “Possum Bend” for its gustatory abundance; they lived off what the land provided, animal, vegetable and mineral.)
But it’s worth noting that, in addition to what’s growing in your organic 4×8-foot Jim’s plot, there’s a real wealth of healthful foods available for the picking in your yard or just out your front door.
The whole world can be a sweet organic garden when foraging.
Reader response, Mosquitoes: “With West Nile being such a problem, and the pesky critters being so horrible this year, do you have any suggestions on repelling mosquitoes organically?”
First: Remove habitats such as old tires, containers, etc. Second, try growing plants that repel them, like basil, lemongrass and citronella. Third, apply oil of lemon eucalyptus; it can mix with water as a spray. Fourth, buy liquid garlic (available online) and spray yard, patio, etc.
Mark your calendar:
•The annual meeting of the Mississippi Beekeepers Association will be held at the Gulf Coast Community College campus in Gautier Oct. 27-30. For more information, contact the MBA at Box 5207, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762; or call secretary Harry Fulton (662) 325-7765, or email harry@mdac.state.ms.us.
•The Mississippi Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association Conference & Trade Show will be held at the Vicksburg Convention Center in Vicksburg, Nov. 14-16. It will be held in conjunction with the Mississippi Agritourism Association and the Gulf South Blueberry Growers Association. Early bird registration special price of $75 ends today. For details, see www.msfruitandveg.com.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.