Sunday, September 6, 2009

Collards, mustard and broccoli

Pictured above; Packman Broccoli, Georgia Collards and generic Mustard Greens

Yes, it is time for me to stray from landscape topics and inform those of you who enjoy green vegetables of a thing or two. First and foremost, green vegetables are good for you. Generally speaking, the more the better. Second, green veggies are not difficult to grow. I am specifically referring to collards, mustard and broccoli. If you have an area (even 5x10 feet) you can grow these favorite fall vegetables. If you have a garden, then you probably already know that now is the time to get them in the ground. If you do not have the time to start growing from seed, you can pick up the small plants from your favorite garden center, or The Home Depot, as I did last week. Make sure your soil is soft and clump free, then drop them in the ground. If you are concerned about snails/slugs, sprinkle Ortho Bug - Getta around the little newbies. One small bag will cover 850 square feet. After a week or two, side dress with fertilizer, but not too much. Side dress = small trench to the side of your row with fertilizer and covered with soil. After 45 or so days, check the plants and you should be able to begin harvesting.

I was never a big fan of collards and mustard greens until the last year or two. They are so tasty as a side to barbecue sandwiches and New Year's Day meals of peas and cornbread and ham. Thanks to Moe's BBQ in Rocky Ridge for getting me started. And thanks to Carol for allowing me some space in her garden. I am still not such a fan of broccoli, but everyone in the fam is, so that is why I planted it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mulch---Straw and Bark

Mulching your plant beds is essential for moisture retention and for visual aesthetics. There are several options to choose from when deciding to mulch your plants. Bark, usually pine bark, can be obtained in large, medium or small nuggets, or shredded. It is available in bags or in bulk. Bags are usually 2 cubic feet per bag. Bark can also be purchased by bulk, if you have access to a truck or trailer. The shredded bark will cover a bit more area than nuggets, but the cost is about the same. Pine bark mulch has a pleasant aroma when newly installed. It is worth mentioning that redwood mulch has become available the last few years. It has a bright orange/red color, and can be used when there is an emphasis on contrast between plants and mulch. Pinestraw is ulually purchased in standard bales bound with an orange plastic twine. Pinestraw is very economical in that it goes a long way. It makes a very good "everyday" mulch, is easy to transport and relatively inexpensive. Pinestraw is not always "clean". There are pine cones, sticks and sometimes dead weeds in the less expensive bales. Generally, the higher the cost, the cleaner the bale.

Virtually all mulch needs to be refreshed or replaced after the passage of time. As the mulch decomposes, the color becomes ligher and it appears to be "going away." This is the signal to take action and re-mulch.