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Planting a Spring Garden in Louisiana


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#1 Chaduke

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 11:00 AM

I've been wanting to do this for a long time now and I finally have the means to do so. I live in the Carencro area (near Lafayette). I'm looking for suggestions, tips, basically whatever information you guys have about growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs.

The things I'm most interested in are

1) ingredients that much better homegrown than storebought (I notice this in tomatoes especially)
2) ingredients that are fairly easy to grow and don't require large amounts of time to maintain
3) what grows well in my area and what doesn't, or what requires special treatment
4) what seeds / soil to buy, where to buy, planting instructions, when to plant / transplant, indoor / outdoor considerations (I have a large fenced in backyard and also a small shed with windows)

Hopefully this info can be useful to other people in Louisiana who want to plant this Spring. Thanks in advance.

#2 HungryC

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 12:09 PM

Spring in Louisiana is a great time--if you're a south LA gardening newbie, I encourage you to pick up the terrific gardening guides written by Dan Gill. He understands the gulf coastal south and writes advice that we can use...he also divides our planting year into the warm season (just beginning), the hot season, and the cool season (AKA winter). This is useful, as the "standard" planting advice used for much of the country totally doesn't apply here. Also, I garden in raised beds, due to the heavy, water-retaining qualities of my soil, and relatively flat plain of my backyard.

Right now, I've got 16 tomato plants (put out as transplants, purchased from WalMart, Bonnie Bell brand) of diff varieties, peppers (bell, cayenne, jalapeno), zucchini (started from seed), canteloupes (seed), cilantro, various basils, dill, parsley, sage (usually dies due to heat & humidity, but I try every year anyway), as well as perennial mint, lemongrass, rosemary, and flowering garlic chives. And a three-foot-tall bay tree. Mesclun is growing in a shallow planter (to keep the cats out of it). Left over from the fall are a few bolted broccoli plants; I keep them around to attract the bees, as well as some rainbow chard that just won't quit. Oh, and I don't use chemical insecticides or fertilizers.

My favorite (most productive, consistent) tomato varieties are Celebrity, Beefmaster, and Better Boy. I haven't had any luck with the more popular heirloom varieties (Cherokee purple, Mr. Stripey, Zebra, etc.), as they don't seem very well adapted to hot/wet--very low production on all of those. Moderate success with Lemon Boy and Yellow Pear, early in the season.

I tend to grow lots of herbs, because they're so expensive to buy in such small amounts, and so easy to grow. Tomatoes are a family tradition, and I vary the other crops from year to year, trying different things. Zucchini always make it in, and I don't even like zucchini much. They're just so damn easy to grow that you KNOW you'll get to eat a few, even if weather & bugs conspire against you.

If you don't already have a compost pile, start one today. Put all of your plant kitchen scraps in it, as well as grass clippings, leaves, yard waste, etc. By next spring, you'll have a load of good stuff to enrich your planting beds. One last thing: call your county agricultural extension agent---lots of good free info (on the LSUAg Center website, too.)

#3 Chaduke

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 02:49 PM

Great advice, I'll be sure to follow all your leads.

#4 HungryC

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 07:24 AM

Here's a link to the LSU AgCenter home gardening website:
http://www.lsuagcent...en/lawn_garden/
Prominently displayed is the "Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide" in the right column.

#5 lukestar

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Posted 23 March 2008 - 08:54 AM

Here's a link to the LSU AgCenter home gardening website:
http://www.lsuagcent...en/lawn_garden/
Prominently displayed is the "Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide" in the right column.

View Post

I have a garden in my back yard that I keep planted year round. I use the LSU Ag Center site a lot, it has a lot of great information, such as spacing, fertilize reccomendations and planting schedules. My garden is about 60' X 40'. At present I have new potatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. I have tomatoes and peppers growing from seed that I will start planting in the next 2 or 3 weeks. You can't beat fresh veggies...

Edited by lukestar, 23 March 2008 - 08:54 AM.


#6 lukestar

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Posted 23 March 2008 - 09:00 AM

I've been wanting to do this for a long time now and I finally have the means to do so.  I live in the Carencro area (near Lafayette).  I'm looking for suggestions, tips, basically whatever information you guys have about growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs.

The things I'm most interested in are

1) ingredients that much better homegrown than storebought (I notice this in tomatoes especially)
2) ingredients that are fairly easy to grow and don't require large amounts of time to maintain
3) what grows well in my area and what doesn't, or what requires special treatment
4) what seeds / soil to buy, where to buy, planting instructions, when to plant / transplant, indoor / outdoor considerations  (I have a large fenced in backyard and also a small shed with windows)

Hopefully this info can be useful to other people in Louisiana who want to plant this Spring.  Thanks in advance.

View Post

As for what ingredients are better homegrown...That's most everything, I have carrots and broccoli in my garden that are 100 times better than store bought. Carrots are very sweet. In your area you can grow pretty much anything you like. Tomatoes and peppers are a must. Plant several varities of both. Be sure to plant slicing tomatoes such as Celebrities, Big Boys and also plant paste tomatoes such as Roma or San Marzano. Plant jalapeno and bell peppers.

#7 HungryC

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 06:56 AM

Hey Lukestar...my tomatoes already have fruit on the vine! What a big difference in climate from S'port to south of NOLA....looks like the Celebrities are the winner in the "earliest fruit" race this year. As usual, they beat out the Early Girls & everything else, though the Sweet 100s are just a few days behind. I tried a new strategy this year: I left all of the straggling, winter-planted bok choy & broccoli to go to flower, and I have mowed around the clover patches in the lawn. This has brought me a bumper crop of hungry bees, which in turn discovered the early tomato flowers.

#8 lukestar

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 06:58 PM

Hey Lukestar...my tomatoes already have fruit on the vine!  What a big difference in climate from S'port to south of NOLA....looks like the Celebrities are the winner in the "earliest fruit" race this year.  As usual, they beat out the Early Girls & everything else, though the Sweet 100s are just a few days behind.  I tried a new strategy this year:  I left all of the straggling, winter-planted bok choy & broccoli to go to flower, and I have mowed around the clover patches in the lawn.  This has brought me a bumper crop of hungry bees, which in turn discovered the early tomato flowers.

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That's great...My tomatoes are just now starting to set blooms. I grew most of mine from seed, I have a total of about 45 tomatoes, early girls, Ark Travelers, Super fantastic, La Roma, San Marzano, Super Paste. Celebrities, Argentina and Creoles... For Peppers I have Giant Marconi, Super Heavyweight, and Big Early in the Bell Peppers, then I have some Anehiem and about a dozen jalapeno peppers. I shoudl have new potatoes ready in about a month. I have been pulling carrots for a month...nothing greater than fresh carrots. I picked about 4 gallons of English peas this week and will have more this weekend...My onions will be ready anytime and I will start planting peas and beans in a couple of weeks....I love fresh veggies...Oh an I have 4 hills of cucumbers, 6 hills of squash, zuchinni and eggplant im my garden as well....I picked all my brocholli about 3 weeks ago and cut my cauliflower this week....Love those fresh veggies....

#9 lukestar

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 06:31 PM

Hey Lukestar...my tomatoes already have fruit on the vine!  What a big difference in climate from S'port to south of NOLA....looks like the Celebrities are the winner in the "earliest fruit" race this year.  As usual, they beat out the Early Girls & everything else, though the Sweet 100s are just a few days behind.  I tried a new strategy this year:  I left all of the straggling, winter-planted bok choy & broccoli to go to flower, and I have mowed around the clover patches in the lawn.  This has brought me a bumper crop of hungry bees, which in turn discovered the early tomato flowers.

View Post

That's great...My tomatoes are just now starting to set blooms. I grew most of mine from seed, I have a total of about 45 tomatoes, early girls, Ark Travelers, Super fantastic, La Roma, San Marzano, Super Paste. Celebrities, Argentina and Creoles... For Peppers I have Giant Marconi, Super Heavyweight, and Big Early in the Bell Peppers, then I have some Anehiem and about a dozen jalapeno peppers. I shoudl have new potatoes ready in about a month. I have been pulling carrots for a month...nothing greater than fresh carrots. I picked about 4 gallons of English peas this week and will have more this weekend...My onions will be ready anytime and I will start planting peas and beans in a couple of weeks....I love fresh veggies...Oh an I have 4 hills of cucumbers, 6 hills of squash, zuchinni and eggplant im my garden as well....I picked all my brocholli about 3 weeks ago and cut my cauliflower this week....Love those fresh veggies....

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Well I am starting to get fresh tomatoes...Good thing cause you can't get them at any local restraunts. I should have tons of fresh maters in the next couple of weeks, if I can just keep the squirrels out of them...My squash and cucumbers have been making for a couple of weeks. I should have a few egg plant in a week or two. I have several varities of peas and beans that will be ready later in the summer and corn that is about 3 feet tall. Love those fresh veggies...

#10 HungryC

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 07:05 AM

Get some disposable alumnium pie plates and tie 'em to your tomato stakes. The shiny fluttering is a good squirrel/mockingbird deterrent. A yard cat is an even better tomato protection device!

#11 Chaduke

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 01:01 PM

I didn't get around to planting last year but this year I'm all fired up and ready. I've got a lot of different seedlings and small plants growing in pots on the windows (tomato and okra mostly) and some stuff like radishes, potatoes and spinach and garlic growing outside.

I've got about 100 green onion tops in the backyard that I planted at different times after making gumbo, they seem to grow well in the worst possible conditions.

Its funny that you mention a cat is a good tomato protector outside because they're an absolute menace to my indoor seedlings. Two times the door was left open accidentally and they knocked over the pots or just ripped the seedlings out of the dirt. They seem to be strangely attracted to them.

I'm also going to give mushroom growing a shot. There's a whole bunch of edible types I want to try out that I couldn't find anywhere near here, but the spores can be ordered online and grown in storage containers in the house.

#12 shellfishfiend

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 04:03 PM

We put in a raised bed this past fall and have been so happy with it that we are putting in two more for spring planting.

I have collards, broccoli and cauliflower still producing in the one bed we have now.

I ordered my seeds last week. I am going to try starting plants inside for the first time. I have been saving my yogurt cups for months and now have a nice supply of "pots."

I have always grown vegetables from purchased plants so this will be a real experiment for me.

I am excited that I found yellow squash seeds that are supposed to be very hardy. In the past our squash plants always die. Okra, three tomato varieties, green beans, bell peppers and eggplant are some of the seeds that are coming.

Spring can't come fast enough for me. I figure in my part of the state, I can put most of my plants out the third weekend of April, unless that is when we have our yearly crawfish boil. Then we might push back planting until the next weekend. We always seem to get an Easter frost, so I will for sure wait until after that.
Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

#13 HungryC

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 08:34 AM

Shellfish, if you're willing to cover your plants at night or whenever frost threatens, you can start WAY earlier. It can be a pain to cover plants in a big garden, but in smaller raised beds, it is worth the effort. Starting earlier gives you a jump on vegetable production before the really hot, wet weather in May causes everything to slow down. Oldtimers save large tin cans, opened carefully so that the lid is sturdily attached....really dedicated gardeners will open the lids during the day and close 'em at night to stave off frost. A slightly more modern method: cut off the top half of clear two-liter plastic bottles and place over seedlings....the narrow neck allows for necessary airflow, the clear plastic lets in the sun....no pesky opening-closing routine.

Right now, I've got a bumper crop of radishes, some frond fennel, artichokes, basil, lots and lots of re-seeded cilantro, sage, dill, thyme, parsley, mint, flat chives....I top-dressed the raised beds with cow manure in October, laid down a 3" layer of chopped leaves in November, and I'll give it all a good tilling before I put in the tomatoes in (mid) February.

#14 shellfishfiend

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 10:23 AM

Shellfish, if you're willing to cover your plants at night or whenever frost threatens, you can start WAY earlier.  It can be a pain to cover plants in a big garden, but in smaller raised beds, it is worth the effort.  Starting earlier gives you a jump on vegetable production before the really hot, wet weather in May causes everything to slow down.  Oldtimers save large tin cans, opened carefully so that the lid is sturdily attached....really dedicated gardeners will open the lids during the day and close 'em at night to stave off frost.  A slightly more modern method:  cut off the top half of clear two-liter plastic bottles and place over seedlings....the narrow neck allows for necessary airflow, the clear plastic lets in the sun....no pesky opening-closing routine.

Right now, I've got a bumper crop of radishes, some frond fennel, artichokes, basil, lots and lots of re-seeded cilantro, sage, dill, thyme, parsley, mint, flat chives....I top-dressed the raised beds with cow manure in October, laid down a 3" layer of chopped leaves in November, and I'll give it all a good tilling before I put in the tomatoes in (mid) February.

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Thank you for the great advice. I may look into doing that. The raised beds are 8x4, so not too big or too little. I may try setting things out earlier using your 2-liter bottle method.
Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

#15 Chaduke

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 12:44 PM

Nice suggestions Celeste. I need to get my raised beds in shape so I can start moving stuff outside, I especially like the 2-liter bottle idea.

I've been looking for ways to organize all the seedlings I'll have growing, I have tons of seeds I want to try out and at the very least learn from. I came across this product yesterday and I think I'm going to give it a try:

http://www.burpee.co...Arrivals&page=1

I could probably arrange a bunch of those little pots into trays. When spring comes and I have to harden off the indoor plants I'm worried that I'm going to be spending a lot of time moving them in and out.

Shellfishfiend: I know how you feel about the spring coming, I'm excited about it myself. I wasn't sure how well stuff would grow indoors but I decided to try anyway. I'm pretty impressed by everything I have sitting on the south window, they all seem very healthy. I also started using a method of germinating the seeds in a damp paper towel. This way I've never had to re-plant anything that failed to sprout.

#16 lukestar

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 08:39 PM

Well my winter/fall garden is about to wind down. I still have a few cabbage, turnips, collards, carrots, rutabagas and green onions left. I dug my new potatoes a couple of weeks ago and my broccoli is gone. I had bell pepper and jalapeno peppers up until Christmas. It's now time to plant English and Sugar Snap Peas and onion sets are due to be put out. I am in the process of ordering Pepper and tomato seed for Spring...Can't wait till those fresh tomatoes are ready...