Southeast Gardening forum: Heirloom vegetable recommendations for the deep, humid south...

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Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
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Intheswamp
Jul 8, 2017 9:01 AM CST
Rookie warning... Smiling

Could some of ya'll share with me some heirloom/open-pollinated varieties of vegetables that work well for you here in the hot, humid south? I'm very interested in seed-saving. I'm located about 50 miles south of Montgomery, Alabama...a muggy, hot, and at times little air movement area. Far enough away from the gulf coast to miss the gulf breezes but not to far away to miss the hurricanes. But, I do reside on a hilltop so I manage to catch what breezes do come by. :)

I'm interested in traditional vegetables, though something "different" is ok, too, as long as it does well in a climate like ours. Here's a list of what I've planted so far this year and how they're doing. Planting was basically around May 25th (late start)...

***Tomatoes: The Romas appear to be doing pretty good...bushy, only a couple of feet tall currently but lots of small tomatoes growing. The Brandywines appear to be growing better than the Mortgage Lifters, but neither are setting a large amount of fruit yet though each have plenty of blooms...the Brandywine plants appear to be more robust than the ML. Potato leaf varieties better down here in the heat?

***Ashley cucumbers: I'm not sure if I'll get a harvest off of these cucumbers. It appears that downy mildew will probably take them out prematurely. Ashley is stated as having "some" downy mildew resistance but apparently this year was a perfect incubator for the disease.

***Yellow Crookneck squash: It seems to be doing fairly good, have gotten a couple of messes from four plants and will be picking some today. I figure this variety will be a staple in the garden, but, does straight-neck do better...any difference in taste?

***Clemson Spineless okra: It's growing, looking healthy, less than 2' tall right now, but looking stocky and appears to have some blooms(?), baby okra(?), limb buds(?), sprouting from the sides of the growing tip.

***Zipper Cream Peas: Are growing very well. Double rows in 3' wide beds...have joined together and two beds are beginning to meet in the middle of the 2' path...they may be getting ready to bloom. I'm thinking they're doing good. But, I'm thinking of a smaller type of southern pea for next year....???

***Melons: Hales Best cantaloupe vines are growing well...lots of blooms that bees are working but I haven't spotted any small melons. Do female cantaloupe flowers have the "baby" fruit behind them? Wilson Sweet watermelons...same situation as with the cantaloupes...have seen no fruit...also wonder if I'm seeing some spots in the leafs of the watermelons or it may be it's natural leaf pattern. After seeing the cucumbers start to go downhill I'm seeing spots on everything...even my jeep. Hilarious!

Bell peppers: They're growing, making a few peppers, blooming, leaves always seem kind of "droopy".

Vegetables I'd like to grow this fall/winter/spring... Loose-leaf lettuce, spinach, broccoli, collards, carrots, etc.,.

So, anybody got some recommendations that this southern climate (and bugs) want swallow-up? Smiling

Thanks!
Ed




South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
[Last edited by Intheswamp - Jul 9, 2017 7:34 AM (+)]
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Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
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Intheswamp
Jul 11, 2017 6:33 AM CST
Wow, three days and no response...kinda slow in this forum, eh? Smiling
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Jul 11, 2017 8:17 AM CST
For vegetable gardening questions even if it is about growing in the Southeast the best place might be the Vegetable and Fruits forum. I have lived in the Southeast almost all my life and gardened on and off a large portion of that time, but my vegetable and fruit gardening experience has not been all that successful. I will say that this year I planted two types of tomatoes 1. Homestead: A total bust, I don't think I harvested a decent tomato off the two plants I had. 2. Super Boy: Very productive, it produced a lot of small tomatoes.
I have tried to grow vegetables and fruits without chemicals, or with very few and over the years have not been very successful. So a few tomatoes a few peppers is what I am down to now.
Name: Danita
GA (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member Forum moderator Hummingbirder Salvias Butterflies Birds
Plant Identifier Vegetable Grower Container Gardener Seed Starter Cat Lover Region: Georgia
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Danita
Jul 11, 2017 9:39 AM CST

Moderator

Hi Ed,

@Farmerdill is one of our best southeastern veggie growers, here on NGA, so maybe he can give you some good suggestions. In the meantime, you might enjoy reading the helpful comments about different cultivars that he's posted to the database.

https://garden.org/plants/brow...

I know that I've never had the greatest of luck with bell peppers. I've found that the non-bell shaped sweet varieties do a lot better, such as Italian frying peppers like 'Melrose', 'Carmen', etc. ('Carmen' is a F1 hybrid owned by Johnny's seed.)
Smiling
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
Image
Intheswamp
Jul 11, 2017 7:36 PM CST
Seedfork said:For vegetable gardening questions even if it is about growing in the Southeast the best place might be the Vegetable and Fruits forum. I have lived in the Southeast almost all my life and gardened on and off a large portion of that time, but my vegetable and fruit gardening experience has not been all that successful. I will say that this year I planted two types of tomatoes 1. Homestead: A total bust, I don't think I harvested a decent tomato off the two plants I had. 2. Super Boy: Very productive, it produced a lot of small tomatoes.
I have tried to grow vegetables and fruits without chemicals, or with very few and over the years have not been very successful. So a few tomatoes a few peppers is what I am down to now.

You're apparently right about putting my question in the vegetable forum, I just thought I'd try and see what local folks might be growing, but traffic is already low here and trying to drill down to specific plants probably is asking to much here. Do you think it's the climate or soil...or both that is limiting your garden production? I think I started up my garden in a bad year in regards to disease...it's been so very, very wet, humid, and overcast at my house. It's hurting farmers and hay growers alike. I know the tomato growers down around Slocomb are saying it's going to be a short season and a farmer up my way that grows acres of southern peas told me he had lost probably half of his crop this year already. I don't won't to say anything bad about the rain but I sure would like to see more blue sky that what we've been getting. Sighing!
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
Image
Intheswamp
Jul 11, 2017 7:41 PM CST
Danita said:Hi Ed,

@Farmerdill is one of our best southeastern veggie growers, here on NGA, so maybe he can give you some good suggestions. In the meantime, you might enjoy reading the helpful comments about different cultivars that he's posted to the database.

https://garden.org/plants/brow...

I know that I've never had the greatest of luck with bell peppers. I've found that the non-bell shaped sweet varieties do a lot better, such as Italian frying peppers like 'Melrose', 'Carmen', etc. ('Carmen' is a F1 hybrid owned by Johnny's seed.)
Smiling

Wow, @Farmerdill has done a lot of work with lots of different plants!!!!! Fantastic job!!! I've read through a lot of them and have a lot to go yet. I'm paying attention to the ones that are noted to have some Downy Mildew resistance. My first year with a decent garden and I got (am getting) hit kinda hard with DM. I think I will look for some sweet banana peppers. We used to grow some type of them (Bonnie transplants) and they were as good as a bell...maybe even better. Thanks for mentioning that!!! And for putting me on to Farmerdill's plant reviews!!!

Btw, would it be ok if I was to copy my original post and put it in the vegetable forum?
Thanks,
Ed
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Jul 11, 2017 7:44 PM CST
@Intheswamp
No I don't think it is the climate or soil, it is the pests and diseases. When my father gardened he used chemical pesticides and fungicides and the garden was very productive. When I first started gardening that is what I did also, but over the years I tried to get away from that and the production fell off the cliff. Before I can get a decent harvest of cucumbers or squash the plants are already declining due to pests. I do still have good luck with peppers, bell or banana. Too I think I am in the same situation as you, I don't think I ever found the appropriate varieties to grow without using chemicals. Sure I could plant four times as much, but I don't have room for that.
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
Image
Intheswamp
Jul 11, 2017 9:13 PM CST
Larry, what I meant about climate was pertaining to what you are talking about...our sub-tropical type of climate is conducive for disease and bugs to run rampant...this year has been a prime example of that from where I'm at and it's probably the same down your way. This humid heat has been a killer so far. As it stands right now, we've had more than ten inches of rain over the normal amount.

I see what you're talking about regarding using and not using the chemicals...it takes the marines to handle the pests that grow down here. I'm trying to keep away from chemicals, too.

As for as varieties go, have you read about "landrace vegetables"...basically throwing a bunch of different varieties out there and letting the fittest ones survive, then the next year you grow the survivors again and maybe add some different varieties to those. No thought is given to keeping a line "pure", just to creating or finding varieties that grow well in your garden. That is a *very* basic concept of it, hopefully I got it about right. But, I was wondering if you've heard of it. I want to do something like that with "selection"...plant a few varieties and pick the ones that work. But, working in a 1000sqft garden limits the number of varieties of the same vegetable that I can try. I didn't try it this year as I was simply trying to get something planted...late start, then found out I had heavy deer pressure so a fence had to be put up, blah, blah , blah,...I was late planting. Sighing! But, I've got stuff growing and I've got a chance to plot and plan for next year...no fence to build, no virgin ground to break, etc.,. :)

South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Jul 12, 2017 7:49 AM CST
Yes I have heard of it, but just like the adage of planting 4 times what you need I don't have the time and patience for that, but more importantly I don't have the garden space left for vegetables...full of flowers.
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
Image
Intheswamp
Jul 12, 2017 9:18 AM CST
:) I hear you about the flowers...and the time (very much the time), etc.,. I guess I was just wondering out loud (or in type Smiling ).
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Vegetable Grower Zinnias
Image
Intheswamp
Jun 29, 2018 1:29 PM CST
Looking through the forum and thought I'd follow up from last year.

I made good okra crops and zipper cream pea crops.

My OP tomatoes were an absolute and complete disaster...out of ~15 beautiful 7' tall plants with loads of blooms and tomatoes on them I harvested exactly ZERO. They *all* rotted. 100% rot. Not sure what all that was about but at the first blush of color they would rot. I know that blight was bad (hot, wet, humid summer), but another big problem was (and still is) leaf-footed bugs. Sad

Yellow crook-neck squash only produced a couple of messes before the SVB shot them to the ground. Cucumbers got hit with downy mildew and then pickle-worms...got a few, but not many.

Melons were hit or miss. Got a few muskmelons and watermelons....DM got into the melons, also.

Some bell pepper plants that my wife had left over from a object lesson in her children's Sunday school class produced lots of bells. These were the only hybrid plants that I grew.

2018:
Looking back at the tomato situation from last year I decided to go with hybrids this year. I decided to stack what cards I could in my favor. Even so, we've had enough rain, humidity, and overcast conditions to create yet another "petri dish" in the garden this year. I did plant two OP Bumble Bee Mix plants that are supposed to make a small, sriped tomato. These got about 4' tall, was loaded with tomatoes and suddenly one looked like someone set it afire. Less than a week later the second met the same end. The hybrids held there own for a month or so but slowly the signs of blight started easing in and I started seeing damaged and rotting tomatoes. BUT, there were good tomatoes, too!!!! A fantastic improvement from last year!!!! Thumbs up Between the Big Beefs, Beefmasters, and Goliaths we've had plenty to eat and enough to keep a couple of friends supplied. The disease resistance helps, I believe, though I'm not sure about which disease is being suppressed (if any). Though last year's plants were big and healthy I have been impressed with the vigor of the hybrid tomatoes of this year. As much as I wanted to save seed I wanted good tomatoes more. I do believe that the leaf-footed bugs are one of my main problems...but they're hard to deal with.

I planted zipper cream peas again this year, though for the first picking I was a little disappointed in that the yield was noticeably down from last year's usual pickings. I'm hoping this was just a "first picking" issue and production will increase. I also planted a 25' row of Whiteacre/Lady peas to see how they do...will be picking these for the first time *very* soon.

Again this year I planted some yellow crookneck squash. And again this year the SVB took down about half the plants and the other two are struggling to produce. I've so far picked basically two messes of squash. I've about decided just not to plant any more squash in the spring...wait till later in the summer and hopefully miss the SVB. I'll be replanting these a bit later so we'll see what happens.

Something new this year is sweet potatoes. I planted 13 slips of some wimpy-looking Vardaman sweet potatoes (bush type). I thought I'd maybe end up with a half-dozen plants but amazingly those little slips all survived! They're looking good except for the possibly flea-beetles eating on the leaves. Not sure how they'll turn out. Confused

I also decided to plant some hot peppers this year for making some vinegar hot pepper sauce. Cayenne, Cayennetta, Serano Chile, and some Tobascos. I've already made up several pints of sauce and still have peppers coming out my ears. And...I haven't even used the tobascoes yet being as they produced a bit later. I'll be using them soon, though.

I decided overall to with hybrids mostly this year and things seem to be doing well. The Mini Love watermelons are looking good and the Charentais cantaloupe are looking good. I believe the cantaloupe has DM, but the vines and fruit continue to grow. All the melons are nearing the DTM. I'm keeping my hopes up for these!!!!

I planted General Lee cucumbers and they're making good...no sign of DM nor wire-worms. Good tasting cukes.

I planted a couple of purple-striped tomatillo plants....they make tomatillos....and they fall off before ripening. Plenty of bees buzzing them. Odd. Won't be growing them again.

I've got three Wilson Sweet watermelons that volunteered from last year. These are growing at the edge of the garden, just missing the end of the irrigation tape. I figure they're survivors so I intend to save the seed on them and intentionally plant some next year.

Oh, and Zinnias. My sister wanted me to plant some zinnias...so I did. Smiling

The only other thing that I can think of is that I stuck a few eggplant seedlings in the ground the other day...they're still alive. Thumbs up

Yeah, I need to mow the grass inside the garden fence. nodding
Thumb of 2018-06-29/Intheswamp/c51781

Now, if you read through this entire post you really have some patience.... Thumbs up
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Virginia
Charleston, SC (Zone 8b)
scvirginia
Jun 29, 2018 7:20 PM CST
I've had pretty good luck with tomatoes grown from saved seed, but I only grow the mini tomatoes in large pots. We don't have a lot of full-sun, so I don't really bother with most veggies, but I did try some heirloom okra a few years ago, and think I might do so again next summer. I don't recall the variety, but the seeds I got were from:
http://www.southernexposure.co...

Their selection of disease-resistant tomatoes might interest you:
http://www.southernexposure.co...

Another resource you might find interesting is here:
https://www.clemson.edu/public...
http://www.clemson.edu/public/...

It looks like Auburn was also trying to set up some sort of seed-saving exchange, but it's not possible to tell from the web site if that ever took off. It might be worth a call or e-mail if you aren't too far off... or if they're willing to mail seeds:
http://wp.auburn.edu/sustainab...

It irritates me when bugs eat the flowers, but I think I'd be way more aggravated if they were eating veggies, so it's just as well that our growing conditions aren't really suitable.

Good luck with the rest of your crops,
Virginia
canada 4b (Zone 8a)
Dirtmechanic
Oct 11, 2018 5:28 PM CST
Intheswamp said:Looking through the forum and thought I'd follow up from last year.



It takes a season or 2 to understand what you are up against, does it not? I feel like I went on a sentimental journey reading your posts. I realized I might have a suggestion or two that you may care to research a little further.

In the case of bugs and fungi, and curcubits and tomatoes, a coating really helps. Some coatings like an essential oil mixed into a carrier oil, actually prevent the dissolving chemistry fungi use to enter a plant surface. I use a premade thyme oil product made for agricultural use, because nothing that is single purpose is really that useful to me and it has some other goodness, humic material for example, and I get more from spraying it.

I also learned that fighting fungi with bacteria works pretty good too. Streptomycin products like actinovate or another strain like is in Mycostop are strong medicine for the garden. But even late blight hates thyme oil. I do a lot of soil purification with the thyme. You cannot truly kill all the bad stuff but you can check it up until you get your crop into the house.

And mildew? I used to get it bad here south of Birmingham, but those days are gone by now. It still tries but everything from aspirin water to my thyme oil stops it so the thing is which methods lasts longest and serves other purposes like insect control. In fact the humid wetness has led me to other much more uncontrollable fungi for which there is no cure, and I think its terrible that solving problems like mildew lead to losing battles with Choanephora cucurbitarum.

Still, I have upped my game. You may find using silicone to enhance the skin toughness and temperature resistance helps you. You may also find amendment products containing chitin like crab meal help stop those root knot nematodes that want to get on the roots and choke off nutrient flow.

I use pyrethrin, BT, and thyme oil for insects mainly. The insects and the fungus are the main things because its the bugs that bite and bring bacterial wilts and viruses. Anyway I enjoyed sharing these things I have discovered that work in my garden. Thanks for the follow up.
Name: Will Currie
Hoke co NC (Zone 8a)
Image
UncleWill
Oct 19, 2018 6:54 PM CST
Any discussion about south eastern gardens would be incomplete without mentioning field peas. Black crowder is a favorite variety of mine. They are a traditional staple and are super productive and very disease resistant. Fungus can form on the pods in wet conditions but it isn't usually a problem as the plant tends to hold the pods high. This habit also makes them super easy to pick. Pick once the pods have filled out but traditionally some undeveloped pods ( called snaps) are broken into inch long pieces and mixed in. The exact ratio is a matter of taste and some folks don't add snaps at all.

Butterbeans are a type of Lima bean but are much creamier and more flavorful than the starchy common Lima. A mosaic fungus is common on the leaves but doesn't seem to harm production. They can be a bit of a chore to pick, pods hide in the foliage, and shelling them is time consuming but worth the effort.

Cooking either is simply a matter of boiling till tender, usually seasoned with a bit of salty pork. This is the south after all. Big Grin

Pods of both should be picked green for best flavor but they dry easily simply by leaving them on the vine. The dried fruit can be cooked like any other dried bean or saved for seed.
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Bookworm Butterflies Dog Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader
Hummingbirder Tropicals Bulbs Birds Lilies Echinacea
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Kabby
Oct 19, 2018 7:18 PM CST
Hey another Alabamian added to the fold! Welcome! @Dirtmechanic
Will now you have me salivating for speckled butterbeans. I don't find them a chore to shell, it's one of the few zenlike moments I have. 😍 Completely zoned out. nodding
canada 4b (Zone 8a)
Dirtmechanic
Oct 20, 2018 10:48 PM CST
Thank you @Kabby! I was directed here from another site. This one is quite extensive!

My winter garden is popping up. Sugar snaps are the only peas I have in right now.
Name: Will Currie
Hoke co NC (Zone 8a)
Image
UncleWill
Oct 20, 2018 10:49 PM CST
@Kabby
I prefer the little green ones, a little larger and flatter than a butterpea, but they're a bear to shell.

Butterpeas, yum. My folks never grew them but the neighbors did. Delicious but I don't know didly about them so I didn't bring them up.

My grandmother would only eat running string beans that grew on trellises. I wasn't old enough to pay attention to variety. Does anyone know anything about them?

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