In the Garden

North Carolina’s “Fifth Season” And Time to Start Thinking About Fall Planting

ImageWhen I recruit companies to North Carolina in my “day job” as an economic developer, the state’s temperate, four-season climate is often a major selling point, particularly for folks who have just come through a long Michigan winter or a broiling Texas summer. I don’t usually mention our “Fifth Season” though; the one that starts around the first of August and runs through mid-September. Different people know this season by different names. My fishing buddy calls it “Nothing Biting” season. I call it “Brown-Out” season; the six week period when the Spring/Summer plants have lost their oomph (as my Mother used to say), but it’s too early yet for the Fall planting.

One sure sign of Brown-Out season is the color of my lawn. Like many in the Carolina Piedmont, I plant tall fescue, a type of grass that Winters well and pops brilliant green in the Spring. Alas, it tends to whither under the unrelenting Southern Summer sun and by the first of August, even irrigated, well-manicured fescue lawns look a bit worse for wear. Beyond a little sprinkling if it’s a REALLY dry period, I don’t irrigate, so by August my lawn is, to be charitable, looking a little ragged. This really concerned me the first couple of years down here: I was afraid I’d somehow killed my grass. But now, I take it all in stride, knowing that a little fertilizer, a good core aeration and a bit of overseeding will bring back the lush green carpet by the end of September.  Continue reading

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Finally, Noticeable Growth in the “Back Forty”

Mid-May and my garden is finally showing signs of growth. I never did get my hot peppers to germinate, so I wound up buying a plant from the store. Everything else was started from seed. The radishes (lower left) are ready to harvest. The carrots have been a little disappointing. Only half of them came up and the ones that did have not been growing very fast. Everything else looks good. I am growing two different types of tomatoes, a modern hybrid (upper right) and a traditional heirloom (upper left). It is interesting to see how different these two plants have been through their growth cycles. I had 100% germination (5/5) with the hybrids I started, but 60% germination (3/5) with the heirlooms. The hybrid has also grown faster and much straighter. We’ll see how the yields compare.

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