Peas on Earth are up. And if you’re like me right now, that’s a welcome flicker of hope during these horrific times.
If you’re interested in growing food for your family or your sanity during this coronavirus pandemic, then you may find this year-at-a-glance helpful. (Warning to my global readers: this particular post is specific to my USDA Plant Hardiness Zone in metro Atlanta, which is zone 7B north of about Lenox Road, and zone 8A south of there. You may find the links, and the general tips at the end of this post, helpful wherever you may live.)
Obviously, there is lots more to say and learn about all of this, but these are the basics. This post goes hand-in-hand with my previous one (How to Make a 1-Minute Victory Garden), which includes links I think you will find helpful. The Georgia Organics planting calendar is a terrific resource as well. Many university agricultural extension departments offer helpful information as well (but please be aware many of them are funded by the chemical companies).
Note: I originally wrote this in 2012 for my previous blog, FoodShed Planet. Climate change has altered some of the timing below. Each year is a bit different. I often check a soil temperature planting chart instead (you can search online for the current soil temperature in your area if you don’t have a thermometer to do so). Phenology provides answers as well (for instance, when the forsythias bloom, you plant peas) — see this cool chart for more natural indicators.
Bottom line? You got this. Listen to the earth and the plants and they will tell you what to do when (for instance, if one of your plants starts vining or climbing or bending over from weight, then give it some support). You’ll see. It’s more intuitive than you think.
September 1-October 15: Plant seeds by September 15/transplants by October 15.
October 15-November 1: Add winter cover crop seeds (winter rye, crimson clover, hairy vetch) where desired. Save leaves for compost. Add crushed leaves as mulch to select beds that you are resting over the winter, or to any new spaces that will be cultivated in the spring.
Around November 1: Plant garlic around edges of planting space, if desired.
Around November 15 (or as needed): Add hoops/row cover to beds with leafy greens that you want to harvest all winter. Root crops and brassicas (broccoli and its friends) can overwinter without cover. Add wheat straw as a mulch to carrots.
February 12-19: Clean out any crops that didn’t overwinter well. Plant onion sets and seed potatoes.
February 27-March 15: Plant spring crops in open spots.
Around April 15: Start planting select summer crops as spring crops finish. Build and erect trellises and other support structures.
May 1-June 1: Plant the remaining summer crops (or consider sweet potatoes or cover crops for school gardens).
Around July 4: Do second planting of summer crops.
Around August 1: Consider a third planting of summer crops (maybe just a few).
Fall Season (yet again!)
Around August 15: Clear out any finished summer crops. Start select fall crops under shade-cloth or window screen cover or plant in the shade of tall summer plants.
By September 1–swing back to the beginning of this calendar!
General tips: Be sure to water daily for 7-10 days after planting new seeds. After that, plants need about an inch of water a week. Rainwater is preferable. Remove dead leaves regularly. Ideally, add fresh compost when you plant and then feed your plants with fish emulsion, liquid kelp, worm castings, organic fertilizer, or compost every 2-4 weeks (vary what you add so you hit all of these over time). Get a soil test once a year or so of at least one bed. Cover crop as much as possible. Expect to pay a “nature tax”–other species will snack a bit (it’s okay). Over time, work to create a complete ecosystem for balance. Harvest frequently. Donate excess. See my book* and my free how-to videos and published articles for more tips. Most importantly–keep learning as you grow.
* Food for My Daughters is available on BetterWorldBooks.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and on Amazon in all global markets. As always, all proceeds are used to help people grow food.
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