2020 Fall Garden Observations

Weather Impacts

  1. Hurricane Marco made for a wet late August as it moved well off-shore of Alabama to off-shore Louisiana.
  2. Typical hot and at times dry early September was not too impactful due to our first use of pre-sprouting and soaking seeds.
  3. TS Cristobal drops 7″ of rain and blows corn over
  4. Hurricane Sally slide slowly by us in the Gulf in mid-September and we had a few very hard gusts–and only drop ¼” of rain. Wind damaged zucchini a lot and butternut squash plants some.
  5. Hurricane Delta, Oct. 9, also missed us going from LA across MS to northwest AL. Got a slow rain. Up to then, mid-day temps have been the high 80s to low 90s with soil temps in the mid to high 90s.
  6. October 29th, Hurricane Zeta went by northwest of us and the rain total was 2.34″.
  7. No rain from Oct. 29 to Nov. 26.
  8. Hard Freezes for three nights, Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and 18. The first two are posted here and damaged broccoli, beets, cabbage (to some extent), and bok choy.

Plant Counts

  • Tomatoes – 50 – Poor yield due to fusarium wilt and RKN
  • Cherry Tomatoes – Super Sweet 100’s purchased plants did ok.
  • Tomatillos – 10 – Failed
  • Bell Peppers – 4 – Purchased. Smaller fruit with small yield.
  • Cayenne Peppers – 6 – Good yield. More than we needed.
  • Giant Marconi Peppers – 2 – Sporadic yield, Good mild flavor with thick flesh.
  • Hot Pablano/Ancho Peppers – 2 – Purchased. Bore well enough but too spicy/hot to use in much.

Beets

  • September 2020 – Kestrel seed failed. Pre-sprouted Ruby Queen 2019 seed and came up maybe 50% but most eventually died seemingly struggling with October heat.
  • Detroit Red –
    • Presprouted and first sowed early Oct when daytime temps were in the high 80s and soil temp high was 88-90.
    • Sowed 3rd time in the marigold row Oct. 25 and had good germination but small plants mostly killed by the freeze.
  • Two nights in the 20’s killed most of the very young plants and leaves.

Bok Choy

White Stemmed Pac Choy – 2019 seed – Good germination and growth in the north end of Row 9. Bolted as soon as plants got close to maturing.

Brocolli

  • Green Magic
    • Came up fine and produced nice 4″-5″ heads
    • Best producer this year and should plant again
  • Wortham 29 – 2019 seed
    • Came up fine but many bolted early while putting on a few small heads. Others did have small heads that were not dense and secondary very small heads.
    • Two nights in the 20’s damaged 50% of the leaves of the mature plants and killed the young 2-leaf seedlings in Rows 10 and 11.
  • Diplomat
    • Very poor germination and little production.
    • But, the six plants that did mature and have heads made nice large, tight, firm, heads.
    • Two nights in the 20’s several times dinged some leaves but the 6 plants survived and had nice heads.
    • Maybe try again.

Cabbage

  • Cheers – First two sowings failed as soil must have been too hot. Third in early Oct. in Row 7 came up and grew well. Good looking plants producing round heads.
    • 2/11/2021 – Third time we harvested large firm heads where the leaves had darkened and rolled back. Heads were heavy, dense, and sliced/chopped great for kraut. Should plant again.
  • K-Y Cross F1 – Came up when re-planted Aug 16 and soil hot at midday. Nice large heads by the last week of Nov. Plant again for Jeff and Maggie.
    • Taiwan Cabbage seeds produce an oblate or flat-growing hybrid known as KY Cross, with heads that are wider than they are tall. These are surrounded with massive wrapper leaves. From here.
  • Early Jersey Wakefield – 2019 seed that came up find as it did last year. Good producers of their distinctive pointed heads but the heads were not dense and had a lot of almost tough parts. Better off planting Cheers next year.

Carrots

Sowed when cooler October 25th but only a few germinated. Soil had crusted hard. Resowed them 11/23/2020 about 4 PM so they will be cool for the first 18 or so hours. Resowed Balero seeds into the single row gaps. Resowed the others into double rows and covered all three with boards as Mary’s had done ok even though sowed during hotter times. Below is the first sowing that was repeated twice with only a few Balero’s coming up from the first sowing.

  • Balero Carrots – 12 feet of row. Depth is about ¼”. They were pelleted and that made it easy for Mary to drop them in with uniform spacing.
  • Imperator Carrots – 12 feet of row. Depth is about ¼”. They will need to be thinned.
  • Danvers 126 – 12 feet of row. Depth is about ¼”. Did not come up.

1/10/2021 – On this cold day in the low 40°s after a low last night of 24° I checked the soil temp and was surprised how the soil was deeply, firmly crusted. That had to hurt the emergence. The temp 2″ down was 42°.

Chard

  • Green Lucullus – Early multiple sowings did not germinate but did germinate about 50% once the days began to cool off in early October. Second purchase, from St. Elmo F&S, planted in mid-October did not come up well. Only one row of three sowings came up about 50% and had big gaps. Late Nov. sowed seed in the gaps but little germination. Finally, in mid to late January, the scattered plants were producing a “mess” a week of large leaves and the little ones would come again. But, not worth trying next year.
  • Peppermint Swiss Chard – Came up after soaking-holding in the refrigerator then soaking again due to Hurricane Sally here. Sowed in late September when soil was still hot during the afternoon. Last week of Nov. gathered a good bunch and it is coming back. Two nights in the 20’s —plus three other pair of nights in the mid 20°s— damaged leaves. Removed the damage and the plants came back. End of January and little bright colored stems and leaves are showing. This is the Chard for us to plant next year if we decide to plant any.
  • Northern Lights – Did not come up. Not again.
  • Perpetual Spinach (Leaf Beet Chard) – Poor germination other than in Row 4. Sowing when soil was very warm likely did not help. Later sowing when soil cooler did not make much difference. Two nights in the 20’s burned some of the leaves but did not kill the few plants that were about half grown. Will not plant again.

Cilantro

  • Sowed in Mary’s garden and it is a good stand in mid-December into January.
  • Two nights of hard freezes three times did not affect them.
  • By the first of February, they have all bolted.

Lettuce

  • Mary’s Garden – All three came up and were 1-2″ tall by mid-January. Began fertilizing in mid-January but should have started sooner and they would have grown out better.
    • Tahoma
    • Salad Bowl
    • Buttercrunch
  • Big Garden – All Failed.
    • Buttercrunch Lettuce sowed 11/11/20 after soaking.
    • Salad Bowl sowed Mid-November in the north half of Row 12 and the next week the south half.

Mustard

  • Savannah Hybrid – Good germination and growth. Mild flavor that was a nice surprise. Sowed twice and it came up well both times. Definitely sow next year
  • Florida Broad Leaf – 2019 seed came up as did this year’s seed. Some leaf damage due to two nights in the 20’s. Likely will not plant next year as Mary did not like it as much as it is less tender and more tart. Will sow it as a cover crop to kill RKNs.
  • Tendergreen Mustard/Spinach, aka Komatsuna – 2020 seed. Soaked seed came up well. Nice substitute for spinach and may sow next year although we did not eat much of it. We preferred the Savannah. Some leaf damage due to two nights in the 20s.

Onions

  • Italian Red – 2019 seed. Did not come up.
  • White Lisbon – 2019 seed. Did not come up.
  • Warrior Bunching onions
    • Big garden – Direct sowed them in Row 8 and as of 12/14/2020 they have come up well and look good. About 12/7 relocated those that were too thick and all lived.
    • Mary’s Garden – They produced well with 1/2″ diameter white sections and tall green leaves. The ones pulled on January 1st had very long roots.
  • Evergreen Bunching Onions – Grew well from seeds.
  • Red onion bulbs bought at St. Elmo F&S came up well in row 8.

Pumpkins – Not worth trying again.

  • Blue Bayou
    • Germination was good and foliage was prolific.
    • No disease pressure at first but then vines turned yellow, then leaves. Saw some RKN nodules.
  • Jack O’ Lantern
    • Disease pressure and RKNs hit them hard. Pulled them out early to try and save the others.

Radish

  • Cherry Belle
    • 2019 seed came up good in early Sept. but too hot and few bulbs.
    • Later plantings did fine but the last sowing in late Nov. did not germinate.
  • White Icicle
    • 2019 seed came up good in early Sept. but too hot and few bulbs
  • Daikon
    • 2019 seed bought from St Elmo F&S in a plain brown bag came up good in early Sept. but too hot and only a few bulbs.
    • Later sowings when cooler came up and had a good crop.

Spinach

  • Crocodile Spinach – First sowing was in mid-September and it was too hot for it. Mary sowed some in her garden and it came up but spotty.
  • Bloomsdale Spinach – Finally cool enough soil in the 2nd week of November. So, sowed ~30 ft. then the next week another 30 ft. The first 30′ was lightly packed and came up ok but were very small with the two nights in the 20s occurred. Lost some and others stunted. The second 30 feet was only raked in and little germinated.
  • Nothing we did with Spinach was right this year.

Squash

Note for 2021 – Need to plant “winter” squash earlier, i.e. July or August, so they mature before the first frost.

  • White Scallop
    • Good germination and healthy foliage.
    • Little disease pressure. Good producer
    • Root Knot Nematodes (RKN)
      • some nodules showing up on the vines that turned yellow and leaves died.
      • 11/13/2020 – Pull up dead vines and no RKN nodules on the roots.
    • Side dressed with 33-0-0. Many blooms appeared and it began to have fruit.
  • Pascola Zucchini
    • Good germination and healthy foliage.
    • Little disease pressure.
    • Good producer
    • 67 MPH wind from Hurricane Sally tore them up. Their upright form was great for harvesting but not good in the wind.
  • Betternut
    • Good germination and healthy foliage.
    • Little disease pressure.
    • Sep – Production is scattered. Side dressed with 33-0-0.
    • Oct – Production is ok. Squash are small but tasty when roasted.
    • Vines dying in early Nov. and when pulled up there were some RNK nodules.
  • South Anna Butternut
    • Good germination and wildly healthy far roaming vines.
    • Little disease pressure.
    • As of the end of September, there have been blooms but no fruit. Side dressed with 33-0-0.
    • As of early Oct there are many blooms and a few fruits.
    • 30 and 40 ft long vines produced 30+ squash before the freeze.
    • They produced well but the long vines were unwieldy.
  • Spaghetti – 2019 seed
    • Germinated fine and grew ok but lost leaves and vines turned yellow. Some RKN nodules present. Decided best to remove the disease and thought it was all pulled out. But, in early October found 3 squash. They were tasty so need to find some that is RKN resistant.

Tomatoes

Seedlings we raised from seed died when planted too close to the fertilizer. Should have put the fertilizer down before hilling and a week or more before setting out.

Bought Bonnies seedlings to fill in.

  • Bonnie’s BetterBoys did better than any of them and should be grown next year.
  • Bonnie’s Celebrity – Did ok but not a good producer.
  • Bonnies’ Super Sweet 100 Hybrid Cherry Tomato plants – On the fence in Mary’s garden it finally bore some great little fruit but the freeze on Nov. 30 killed them and a lot of green ones were lost.
  • Bonnie’s Husky Cherry Red Hybrid Tomato plant – Did not produce. Maybe not enough sun along the fence in Mary’s garden

RKN’s are a big issue and the fact these were planted in very close to the same location as last year did not help.

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