I’ve lived here almost four years now, and I’m still figuring out how to garden in southwest Louisiana. At first, I went to farmers’ markets and marveled at how early local fresh produce would appear on the stands. And that’s the key . . . start early. Last year I planted a couple tomato plants – late spring – about the time everyone else was already eating theirs. My plants grew, but never produced a single tomato. Once it gets hot, they can’t pollenate. So this past week (is February early enough?), I planted two tomato plants – one best boy and one grape tomato – and two red pepper plants. I bought some lettuce and spinach seeds, but after I read the package, I learned I should have planted them late fall/early winter and could have been harvesting greens the past several months. I did plant radishes a couple months ago, and have had a few mature. I also planted several broccoli plants and they’re producing more than we can eat!
This past late fall/early winter, I planted daffodil and iris bulbs, hoping for lovely spring flowers. But even though we technically had a "cold" winter, it was warm enough that that the bulbs sent up shoots immediately, though it was too cold for them to actually bloom. Instead of spring flowers, I have stringy dying stalks in the beds with no hope of blooms.
I planted a strawberry plant early last summer, obviously too late to grow any berries. The plant survived a hot summer and a cold winter, but it has yet to bloom. Not sure what’s up with that. We’ve got some blueberry bushes in the back, but the birds always get the berries before they ripen enough for us. And we planted a satsuma tree (Louisiana clementine) a couple years ago that seems to be more interested in staying a baby than growing up and producing fruit.
I’ve planted several herbs. Last year, the basil grew fantastic, more like a shrub than a small plant. But chives withered and died. We’ll see how I do this year with cilantro, cat nip, and again, chives and basil.
I’m learning what flowers grow well and when. Pansies are pretty all winter; snapdragons, not so much. Just today, I saw the first red bud tree in bloom. They take my breath away. Soon the azaleas will spread vivid fuchsia, red, and orange across the landscape. Not much survives the heat of summer except crepe myrtle, oleander, zinnias.
Gardening here, no doubt, will be an ongoing adventure. High on my list of things to do this summer . . . learn to compost.
What grows in your garden?