Southern Belle

The Southern Belle design focuses on a few of the staple foods that a typical U.S. Southerner might enjoy growing and eating on a regular basis. The pea, okra, and zinnia blossoms add beauty to the basics. Hot peppers and herbs add spice.

Southern_Belle

Cucumbers

cucumbers
  • Recommended variety: Tendergreen Burpless
  • Plant seeds indoors 1/2″ deep three weeks before last frost, or seed in garden after frost.
  • Transplant into garden after frost and when soil is 65 to 70 degrees F.
  • Spacing one per sq. ft. for bush type; two per sq. ft. for vining type.
  • Extend harvest with a second crop, planted two weeks later.
  • Days to harvest: 50 to 60 after transplanting. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Use row covers until flowering to keep off insects.

Okra

okra
  • Recommended varieties: Clemson Spineless and Jing Orange.
  • Start seeds indoors four to six weeks before the last frost.
  • Transplant into garden after soil reaches 65 degrees F and nighttime temperatures stay above 60.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: 50 to 70, depending on weather.
  • Hints: Use black plastic to warm soil and intensify heat around the plant. Add aged manure.

Summer Squash

summer_squash
  • Recommended variety: Lemon Squash
  • Plant seeds 3/4″ deep indoors or outdoors three weeks after last frost, or when soil is 70 degrees F.
  • Transplant three weeks after last frost or when soil is 70 degrees F.
  • When picked frequently, plants will produce continuously until frost.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft. for bush varieties; two plants per sq. ft. for vining types growing on trellis.
  • Days to harvest: 30 to 40 from transplant; 40 to 50 from seed. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Start under garden fabric (row covers) to protect from insects.

Rosemary

rosemary
  • Germination is poor, and seeds must be very fresh, so buying potted plants is recommended. Plant outdoors only after all danger of frost. Grow in garden or in pot. Tender perennial.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: Leaves from first year plants can be picked sparingly by midsummer.
  • Hint: Do not allow rosemary to dry out completely. In cold climates, bring plant indoors and grow in sunny window during winter.

Zinnias

zinniasm
  • Start seeds four to six weeks before last frost.
  • Transplant a week or two after last frost or when soil is 50 degrees F.
  • Spacing: two to four plants per sq. ft., depending on size of mature plant.
  • Days to harvest: 60 to 70; they are edible.
  • Hint: cut-and-come-again; the more you cut, the more they grow.

Leeks

leeks
  • Recommended variety: Carentan Leek
  • Start seeds indoors 10 to 12 weeks before last spring frost.
  • Transplant around the time of the last frost
  • Spacing: six plants per sq. ft.
  • Early leeks can be planted in spring and again in summer for a fall harvest.
  • Days to harvest: 50 to 75 from transplant for early leeks; 90 to 120 for storage leeks. Frost-hardy.
  • Hint: To get long white stems, plant in a 6″ hole, and fill with soil as leeks grow.

Collards

collards
  • Recommended variety: Georgia Southern Creole
  • Sow seeds 1/2″ deep indoors eight weeks before last frost or in garden six weeks before last frost.
  • Transplant seedlings into garden up to six weeks before last frost.
  • Spacing: two plants per sq. ft. Can be planted midsummer wherever early crops are removed.
  • Collards continue to grow and produce leaves until late fall.
  • Days to harvest: 60. Very frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Collards can be grown in part shade. They need plenty of moisture, so mulch well.

Chives

chives
  • Recommended variety: garlic chives
  • Purchase a pot of chives or get a clump from a neighbor. Plant in garden anytime. Hardy perennial.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: Leaves can be harvested from early spring on – as soon as they are 6″ tall. Cutting promotes regrowth. Use flowers in salads.
  • Hint: Divide and pot up some chives in fall, and bring indoors to grow on a sunny windowsill all winter.

Hot Peppers

chilli_peppers
  • Recommended varieties: Anaheim Pepper, Thai Red Chili Pepper, and Rooster Spur Pepper
  • Start seeds indoors 1/4″ deep 10 to 12 weeks before last frost.
  • Transplant into garden three weeks after last frost or when soil reaches 70 degrees F.
  • Fruits are edible from early green to full-color maturity. Heat increases with maturity.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: 50 to 65 for green, 80 to 85 for full color. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Do not fertilize peppers. Water sparingly.

Tomatoes

tomatoes
  • Recommended varieties: Cherokee Purple and Yellow Pear
  • Plant seeds 1/4″ deep indoors, six to eight weeks before last frost.
  • Transplant into garden one to two weeks after last frost or when soil reaches 65 degrees F.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft. if grown on trellis. (Four squares required if grown with cage, nine if grown with no support). May grow early season crops nearby to allow more room later.
  • Days to harvest: 55 to 100 from transplanting, depending on variety. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Remove lower leaves before planting, and bury extra stem.

Basil

basil
  • Recommended variety: Genovese Basil
  • Plant seeds 1/4″ deep indoors six weeks before last frost – outdoors two weeks after last frost.
  • Transplant seedlings two to three weeks after last frost or when soil reaches 70 degrees F.
  • Replant if you have space and want more.
  • Spacing: two plants per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: 40-55 from transplant. Harvest leaves as desired. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Pinch stems early and often to stimulate branching and bushy growth.

Corn

corn
  • Recommended varieties: for drying – Cherokee White Eagle Corn; sweet corn – Dorinny Sweet; popcorn – Strawberry Popcorn or Dakota Black Popcorn
  • Sow seeds 1″ deep directly in garden.
  • Spacing: Plant four seeds per sq. ft.; thin to two plants per sq. ft.
  • Plant after frost, when soil reaches 60 degrees F.
  • Need to grow at least 12 to 18 plants of same variety to ensure good pollination.
  • Days to harvest: 65 to 75 from planting. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hints: Use garden fabric (row covers) early in spring to protect against frost and crows.

Sweet Potatoes

sweetpotato
  • Recommended variety: Okinawan Sweet Potatoes
  • Plant slips (rooted sprouts) two weeks after last frost, once soil and night temperatures are 60 degrees or more.
  • Spacing: one per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: 90.
  • Hint: Cover soil with black plastic to increase heat and prevent unwanted rooting of vines.

Beans

beans
  • Recommended varieties: Dixie Speckled Butterpea Lima Bean, Thai Purple Podded Yard Long Bean, Barnside Sweet Runner Bean, Kentucky Wonderpeas, Wando Garden Pea, Purple Hull Pinkeye Cowpea, Ozark Razorback Cowpea, and Rice Pea Cowpea
  • Sow seeds 1″ deep directly in garden after all danger of frost.
  • Spacing: four plants per sq. ft. for bush beans, six to eight plants per sq. ft. for pole beans
  • Plant second crop of bush beans (if needed) two weeks after first planting.
  • Days to harvest: 50-80 from seed, depending on variety. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Add a legume inoculant when planting to increase vigor and yield.

Carrots

carrots
  • Recommended varieties: Pusa Asita Black and Parisienne
  • Sow seeds in garden 1/4″ deep three weeks before last spring frost.
  • Spacing: Plant 30 seeds per sq. ft.; thin to 16 plants per sq. ft.
  • Replant six to eight weeks before fall frost for late crop.
  • Days to harvest: 55 to 70 from seed. Frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Before planting, loosen soil to 12″; remove stones, and add compost.

Melons

melon
  • Recommended varieties: Sugar Baby Watermelon, Minnesota Midget Melon, Crane Melon
  • Sow 1/2″ deep in garden two to three weeks after last spring frost or indoors at time of last frost.
  • Transplant seedlings (if started indoors) when small and soil has reached 70 degrees F.
  • Spacing: one or two plants per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: 75 from transplant. One crop per season. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hints: Cover soil surface with plastic, or grow vines on trellis to keep melons off soil. Over-watering watermelon after fruit set dilutes sweetness. For muskmelons, consider pruning off all but one newly forming melon every two weeks, so the remaining fruit will be sweeter.

Eggplant

eggplant
  • Recommended varieties: Diamond and Casper
  • Start seeds 1/4″ deep indoors eight weeks before last frost.
  • Transplant seedlings when soil reaches 70 degrees F or three weeks after last frost.
  • Spacing: one per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: 55 to 70 from transplant. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hints: Bugs love eggplants. Protect with garden fabric (row cover) even after flowering.

Peanuts

peanutssm
  • Also known as goober peas
  • Recommended varieties: Fastigiata Pin-Striped Peanut, Tennessee Red Peanut, and Schronce’s Deep Black Peanut
  • Can be planted hulled or unhulled. Do not peel the pink skin; seed will not germinate without it.
  • Plant when the soil has warmed to between 60 and 70 degrees.
  • Spacing: two plants per sq. ft.
  • When plants are about a foot tall, hill earth around base of each plant.
  • Days to harvest: 120 to 130.
  • Hint: Peanuts may be harvested between 90 and 110 days for boiling or left until the plant completely dies back for roasting nuts.

Sweet Onions

onions
  • Recommended variety: Yellow Granex PRR
  • Fall plant.
  • If planting sets, plant them 1″ deep.
  • Spacing: nine plants per sq. ft., or plant more densely, and then, thin and eat small onions.
  • Days to harvest: 180. Frost-hardy.
  • Hints: Onions will not tolerate weeds and require consistent moisture. To grow really sweet, mild onions, be sure the soil is very low in sulfur.

Dill

dill
  • Sow seeds directly in the garden after danger of frost. Keep soil moist during germination.
  • Sow continuously to maintain a supply of fresh, tender foliage.
  • Spacing: Sow 18 seeds per sq. ft.; thin to nine plants per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: 40 to 50 for leaf, 85 to 105 for seed.
  • Hint: For seed, protect plants from wind, or stake to keep them from flopping.

Sweet Peppers

peppers
  • Recommended varieties: Canary Bell Pepper, Horizon Bell Pepper, Sheepnose Pimento Pepper, and Peperone di Cuneo Pepper
  • Start seeds indoors 1/4″ deep 10 to 12 weeks before last frost.
  • Transplant into garden three weeks after last frost or when soil reaches 70 degrees F.
  • Fruits are edible from early green to full-color maturity.
  • Spacing: one plant per sq. ft.
  • Days to harvest: 50 to 65 for green, 80 to 85 days for full color. Not frost-hardy.
  • Hint: Do not fertilize peppers. Water sparingly.