Row by Row Episode 159: Ask A Gardening Expert

Garden Update

Hoss Garden:

There has been a lot of rain here in south Georgia, Greg has been cleaning out a lot of the garden to make room for the next crop. Greg still has the Jing Orange Okra growing, everything else has been extinguished except for the okra and cover crops. Greg is getting excited about starting the fall crops. Lots of transplants coming up but we still have all the rain coming in, Greg plans on using the silage tarp on the plots to get them ready once the rain stops.

Raised Beds:

Greg and Sheila have pulled up all of the Zinnias, planted Jambalaya Okra, and recently planted some Sweet Dumpling Squash (winter squash). Greg has started some herbs in the greenhouse to transplant into the raised beds when ready. Sheila has also planted 3 different varieties of sunflowers, Sun Spot, Sungold, and Mardi Gras – all dwarf varieties.

Questions & Answers Part 1:

After Gardening for so Many years and seeing so many different other gardens. If you started your garden all over again, what would you do differently? Greg says, “have smaller garden plots, and we have a goal now to grow our own food all year round. Smaller plots make things so much easier to manage, you can use crop rotation, cover crops, and even give some plots a rest. In smaller plots, you can plant everything in 2 weeks intervals so your plants are ready to harvest at different times, giving you fresh vegetables for a longer period.”

What are the easiest things to grow for beginning gardeners? Greg says, “Summer Squash is the easiest thing to grow by far, low maturity date not much room for error. During the fall for beginners, the best things to grow would be Radish, beets, and any leafy vegetables (Collards, turnips, and mustards). Something you could try would be Broccoli, it is not the easiest but highly rewarding.”

What is the correct height I should put my grow lights at? Greg states that the general rule would be 6-10 inches from the top of the plant.

What are your favorite blackberry varieties that do have thorns? Greg is not a fan of blackberry varieties with thorns. Years ago, he did a trial with the thorn and thornless to see which one tasted better. There was not a significate difference in the taste. Greg would not recommend anyone growing the ones with thorns. His favorite is the thornless Apache Blackberry.

How long should the Hortanova trellis netting last? Greg states that it really depends on how it is stored when you are not using it. He hasn’t had one go bad before and has used it for many seasons.

I have heard my whole life not to plant rows east to west only north to south. Do you gentlemen have a certain direction that you plant your crops? Greg has never heard of this theory. The main thing he says you would need to worry about is when you create the rows, is erosion. When it rains the way the water runs you want to plant your rows perpendicular to the flow.

What would you recommend for a cover crop in raised beds? Greg says, “Summer Cover crops are very limited because they all get pretty good sized and are very hard to extinguish in a raised bed. Buckwheat would be the easiest summer cover crop. Winter cover crops will almost all be fine to be grown in a raised bed, Diakon Radish, mustards, clover almost cover crop.”

Could field peas be used as a cover crop and tilled into the soil? “Absolutely, Red ripper and iron clay pea. The red ripper pea would be better if you can chop it up in the end. If you have to use a lawnmower or similar to till them down the Iron Clay pea is better.”, Greg says.

Questions & Answers Part 2:

I’ve heard/ seen a lot about cover crops, but I can’t wrap my mind around how to eradicate them when it comes time to plant in the spring. I saw another video you did, where you mowed the cover crops down really short, but what happens after that? “About a month before your spring garden. You want to extinguish the crop which is one of the more difficult things to do. 4-5 weeks before you plan to plant, mow down your cover crop using whatever you have that will chop it up the most. Chop it as close as you can get and once that is done go back with a tiller or harrow and work the organic mature into the soil as green manure. The more it is chopped up the faster it will decay in the soil.”, Greg suggests.

How to stop bloom end rot on watermelon? Greg says you would want to use drip irrigation and do not let them get stressed. As well as rotate in a calcium nitrate with your fertilization schedule.

What is the best watermelon variety for a new watermelon grower? “Heirloom, a more specific one of the open pollinator heirlooms. Crimson Sweet is one of the best. Do not grow a Hybrid and most definitely do not grow seedless.”

Currant? Have you tried growing them? Greg has never eaten currants. He has never even seen them until a few years ago. I am impressed by them and would love to grow them one day.

How do you keep animals out of your garden? Rabbits, deer, etc. “Exclusion. This is the only thing you can do in a vegetable garden. Putting up a barrier to keep the animals out is the best option.”

Questions & Answers Part 3:

Do you plan on adding other organic fertilizers to the store? Hoss Tools will not be carrying strictly organic fertilizers, we are working on some fortified fertilizers. We are working on citrus tree fertilizer, fruit, and tree fertilizer.

Best Fertilizers for the everyday grower? “The Complete Organic Fertilizer, 5-4-3, is one of the best all-around fertilizers that we have. It is very easy to use and there is a lot of room for error with this one.”

Do you have any organic or inorganic sprays in your garden areas? Both, we use a lot of each of these in our gardens. The main thing with using these is to understand what you are using, how it is being used, and what are the ramification of using them.

What will control Powdery Mildew? “It is one of the easiest things to control and is almost always caused by the humidity. All of the fungicides we have will help control powdery mildew.”

How do you control grasshoppers? Greg does not have a problem with grasshoppers in our garden. Once they get to the adult stage they are almost impossible to get rid of. When they are small, you can use Bug buster II on a consistent basis to control them.

What is the best way to get a good harvest of pumpkins? “Three things you need to do. One, use drip irrigation. You want to use this because you need to keep the foliage and the vines dry to help prevent diseases. Two, keep it sprayed for the diseases. Downey Mildew is the worst and pumpkins are very susceptible to this. Three, Pollination. You have to have pollination to make a good pumpkin crop.”

Questions & Answers Part 4:

I purchased white Dutch clover seeds and peaches and cream sweet corn from hosstools.com and I’m curious if the nitrogen the clover provides will fertilize the corn in a companion planting scenario. I read some research from UGA on it and am curious about your thoughts on the white Dutch variety. “The White Dutch Clover is a great cover crop. It is very heat tolerant and gives great amounts of nitrogen to the soil. Greg does not believe it will work as a companion crop for the corn because although the clover pulls the nitrogen into the nodules in the soil. The nitrogen is not readily assessable to the corn that is beside it. It. The nitrogen has to be broken down by the decay process before it would be available for the cron to use.”, Greg states.

How do you prevent cross-pollination or don’t care about it?Okra is a self-pollinator plant. However, they can cross-pollinate if you plant two different varieties beside one another. If you are not saving the seeds. You do not have to worry about this. Greg doesn’t worry about cross-pollination.”

How do you deal with Vine Borers? They are killing all our pumpkins. “Vine borers are a pest that you will have to catch early if you want to control them. Use Bug buster II, Neem, or horticultural oil in the very early stages of life. Also, keep your garden clean, once your squash stop producing get rid of the squash and plant a good cover crop. Once they get to the adult stage there is almost nothing you can do.”

Questions & Answers Part 5:

What is a good spray schedule for Mississippi Purple Hull peas? “The Permethrin every 7 days. Very tight 7-day schedule. You can rotate every now and then with Neem Oil as well.”

Where can I get the old standard Longhorn Variety? “Long pods and stays tender. — This is the Cowhorn Okra. It is also known as a longhorn, just depend on the geographical region as to what you call it.”

My corn was not successful this year. I am okay with it. It’s my learning season so my question is, should I go ahead and pull up the stalks now, is it hurting my soil to keep them in the ground even if they are not producing? Greg suggests taking the stalks up when they are not producing. The stalks are easier to work with when they are green. You benefit more when you work the green stalks back into the soil than the brown dried-out stalks.

How far apart are your rows (Peaches and cream)? Any of the sweet corn that Greg plants, is 30-36 inches apart.

I’m assuming my 0.5 Gallon/ Minute flow rate is not enough to run a drip tape – is that correct? “0.5 is right there on the border. Any less pressure and you would have an issue.”

Recipe:

Ms. Hoss Heatless Habanero Pineapple Pepper Jelly:

1 cup seeded and coarsely chopped Heatless Habanero Pepper 1 cup drained finely chopped Pineapple (I let drain overnight, very important to be drained) 6 cups sugar 1 cup cider vinegar (5% acidity) 4 Tbsp fresh lime juice 2 (3 oz) package liquid pectin

1. Process pepper in a food processor/blender until smooth

2. Bring pepper mixture, pineapple, sugar, and vinegar to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil 3 minutes at a rolling boil. Stir in lime juice and pectin, return to a rolling boil. Boil 1 minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and let the foam settle (about 1 minute). Skim off and discard any foam.

3. Spoon into clean canning jars. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

4. Remove and let sit undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Makes 7 ½ pint jars

Product of the Week

Silage Tarp

Pest Control

Cover Crops

Roulette Heatless Habanero

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