Early spring garden roundup

Planted anything this spring?  If you have any spare spot of ground not covered in concrete, you can fit in edible plants.  I have three mature oaks in my front and back yards, so my gardening ambition is curtailed by gigantic tree roots and deep shade.  Here’s what’s growing in the sunnier spots of my average, south Louisiana suburban backyard in early spring:

  • Citrus: trees in full flower…key lime, kaffir lime, tangelo, Moro blood orange, Persian lime, Owari satsuma, Louisiana sweet orange, and Meyer improved lemon.  The Meyer lemon (pictured) is completely covered in blossoms and is thick with bees.
  • Herbs: perennial garlic chives; tarragon that overwintered; self-seeded cilantro, dill, thai basil, and genovese sweet basil; green bunching onions (scallions) grown from cut ends; ginger mint; spearmint; Florence fennel; perennial tumeric; parsley; oregano; sage; thyme; and rosemary in terracotta planters.  Oh, and a few ‘Mammoth’ sunflowers, for the birdseed and the showy, 9′ tall flowers.
  • Edible greens: the tail end of the arugula (it’s bolting thanks to warmer weather) and puntarelle chicory.
  • Vegetables:  cucumbers, zucchini, bell peppers, pinkeye purplehull peas.
  • Tomatoes:  (Notice how they get their own category?)  Twenty tomato plants this year, including Celebrity, Beefmaster, Red Beefsteak, Park’s Whopper, Pink Girl, Orange Jubilee, Better Boy, grape, and I forget what else.

It’s still too cool to plant hot-weather things like eggplant, okra, and hot peppers.  When the arugula & chicory succumb to the heat, I’ll add cayenne & jalapeno peppers, a few hot-weather tomatoes (Solar Fire, probably), and another crop of peas.

Unsure where to start with a garden in the humid, coastal south?  Check out the vegetable gardening resources online at the LSU AgCenter, including specific recommended varieties for the state’s climate zones.

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6 thoughts on “Early spring garden roundup

  1. Peppers! Somehow or other my cayenne plant overwintered and has a pepper on it now and a ton of new leaves. And I got a pepper as a gift from a friend’s grandfather (sprout from an old plant) in January of all times, with peppers on it, and it lost its leaves and is coming back happy.

    Any suggestions other than herbs for the shade? My parsley is killing it and I get enough sun on the other side to grow basil, but that’s about it.

    • if you have enough sun for basil, then you should be able to grow peas or beans. Cowpeas (blackeyes, pinkeyes, lady cream peas, etc) fare well when given a little support, like alongside a fence or gate. Cucumbers, too.

      • I’ve been filling up the porch with containers – it’s uncovered and large – but the fences are pretty shady. Live oaks here too. At least Entergy has to clear the path for the powerlines above the sidewalk every so often – last year I got a lot more sunlight due to that.

        Pinkeye purple hull peas remind me of visiting great-grandmother in mississippi years ago…

  2. I have a lot of turnips that need to be pulled and used. Ideas? When I planted them I was thinking mostly of the greens, and hadn’t planned on a big root crop.

    • Mashed, and mixed w/potatoes. Roasted w/poppy seeds (a Mario Batali recipe floating around on the web somewhere). Old-school Cajun pork & turnip stew: brown chunks of pork shoulder, make a medium dark roux, plus trinity, add water & chunked turnips & seasonings. Simmer until pork & turnips are tender.

      • If the weather turns cooler again I might try the stew. It’s been 85+ for over a week. Turnips seem more suited to November.

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