Just like every year the fall season is the busiest here and January is the month that things finally slow down. It's kind'a like getting of off of the interstate after a long trip and finally being able to relax with the knowledge you made it and didn't get run over by some idiot.
As far as the garden the new year promises much the same challenges as last year. The main goal is bringing my dead soil back to life. I don't call my garden the sandpit for nothing. The soil is pretty much devoid of nutrients, has nematodes as well as soil borne diseases. All contribute to not being the best medium to grow healthy plants. It is apparent that building the soil will bring about the most positive change. This year my garden resolution will be to continue to add compost and try to Feed the Soil.
It has been two years now that I have stopped using any pesticides and chemical fertilizers and there is a noticeable difference. I have a lot more bugs attacking the plants than before but keep trying to learn organic methods to control them. My plan for this season is to use Neen oil sprayed weekly to try to head off the bad bugs and control the blights. Neem is a natural biological pesticide as well as fungicide that I have experimented with in the past with varied results. I'm holding out hope that if I can keep a weekly schedule with the Neem it will show results. Please feel free to offer any suggestions as to what organic products work that you use in your garden.
Some of my research suggested that companion planting Four O'clock plants will help control Japanese beetles. The Four o'clock plant is supposed to attract the beetle which eat the plants poison leaves. I happen to have some four o'clock plants that were brought down from Jacksonville years ago and were growing wild in the front shrubbery . I dug up some of these Four o'clock tubers and planted them in a container which will be set by the planting beds.
Best I can figure the container will help control the FourO'clocks from spreading which they tend to do and getting out of control. As far as if it will help control the Japanese beetles that like to munch on my garden plants we shall see. If nothing else these Four o'clocks produce nice yellow flowers. I always get lots of the hungry beetles here with warm weather. They like to fly around mostly at night and besides eating the plants like to land in your hair.
As far as the edible garden I started some Southern Collard seeds this week in little newspaper seed pots that I made up. The Collards will go out in one of the raised beds and will be my first vegetables crop attempt this year. I'm thinking that they will do well in the cold weather which is said to improve their taste. If I can keep the bugs out of them they should do well.
It is a fact that that a mess of homegrown Collards with a dash of pepper sauce is hard to beat. So I will be keeping my fingers crossed. So if the good lord is willing and the creek don't run dry some fine Southern Collards will be on the menu in the not too distant future.