Ready, Set, Grow! September 5, 2019

I’m all for national pride and unity, but who’s the darn Yankee who decided Labor Day is the end of summer in America? September may give The Deep South a “cool front” toward the end but probably not much; and certainly not now. It’s too hot for me to be standing near an open flame barbequing as the national media suggest so let’s call it another “sit back and evaluate” month.

I’m preaching the good word of garden record keeping today. If you garden, you probably experiment every year with new flowers, vegetables, or whatever you’re into. You may fertilize at a different time or try another method of outsmarting bugs. If you also have a perfect memory, you’ll recall next year how everything went. Congratulations, Smarty Pants. For the rest of us a journal of some kind can be very useful.

It can help you become a better gardener by remembering past successes and avoiding making the same mistakes twice. A farmer in his upper 80’s once told me that what keeps him farming is that he learns something new every year. So it may be a while before perfecting it.

“I brought my pencil! Give me something to write on, man,” says Van Halen. Any paper will work and you can get a notebook of any sort from K&B or wherever one buys school supplies these days. You may not use it every day, but you’ll want to keep it for years. Get something substantial.

Where to keep it? Most of our gardening occurs outside, so how about the shed? Or I’ve seen people use waterproof containers and store the records right there in the garden.

Accessibility is helpful. Bear in mind a lot of these notes will be scribbled with a muddy, sweaty hand right there on-site.

A computer file can be handy too, once you’ve gotten inside and cleaned up. This can be especially useful because 1) the file is harder to lose than a piece of paper and 2) you can more easily attach other files. Include pictures of your plants in various growth stages, marking the dates of how they looked when. Computers also have the advantage that you can share pictures with other gardeners to share / show off or to ask advice. I get a lot of plant questions and they’re easier to answer accurately if I have a lot of information. How often was it watered? When did it start looking this way? Were herbicides applied in the area?

A garden journal is also a good place to keep track of fertilizer and pesticide applications. This may save you from over-applying either. Include amounts and descriptions along with dates. Besides writing all this, you may keep plant tags and seed packets stored nearby. These hold a lot of information in a small place.

We can still plant transplants of peppers and tomatoes this month. And we can plant transplants OR seeds of cucumbers and squash. Green beans (bush or pole) are good now from seed. They’re pretty care free and popular with the whole family. It’s also time to be getting transplants of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage (cole crops) into the vegetable garden, and we’re beginning to plant carrots, turnips, and radishes.

If you want to know more about gardening, landscaping, or anything else horticultural, contact the St. John, St. James, & St. Charles Parishes County Agent André Brock at abrock@agcenter.lsu.edu. Also, the LSU Ag Center’s website can be accessed at www.lsuagcenter.com with lots of user-friendly information, including this article.

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