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Old February 1, 2021   #1
b54red's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Alabama
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Default Difficult fall and winter in the deep south

This has been one of the most frustrating fall and winter seasons I have had in many years. We have had one mild freeze after another since fall and it isn't over yet. The weather forecasters have consistently missed the lows predicted almost every cold night this year by as much as 8 degrees some nights. This has resulted in a lot of damage from heavy frosts and freezes that were unexpected. Since Thanksgiving I have been covering my hoops every time the forecast is for 35 degrees or lower and it has resulted in saving some of my winter crops.

The frequent freezes and extreme swings in temperature has me cutting broccoli a month later than it should have produced and the same with cabbage and cauliflower. Amazingly one of the most inconsistent winter vegetables spinach has done fantastic during all of this weird weather while my most consistent winter grower Brussels's sprouts has grown so slow that I fear I will get little or no production from it this year for the first time in a decade. Carrots have germinated terribly in the ground this year so I have had to plant them six times in order to get the same amount of healthy plants that I generally get from just two small plantings. I had to pull a whole bed of broccoli because it headed when it was only eight inches tall giving me nickel to quarter sized heads this week. I am already replanting and started spring seeds this past week but they may be too late to use depending on how late a spring we have.

Oh well my tomatoes are starting to pop up in the greenhouse and my attention will be shifting to grafting in a few weeks and the excitement of another season of trying to grow more of those great tasting heirloom tomatoes along with all the other spring and summer tasty veggies.

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Old February 1, 2021   #2
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Location: Near Philadelphia, PA
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It has been a tough year for so many reasons! Hang in there - Spring is on the way!
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Old February 1, 2021   #3
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Location: NC-Zone 7
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Sorry for the frustration your feeling. Hopefully something constructive will come of it.... perhaps a reduced insect population for the upcoming season...

Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is knowing not to put one in a fruit salad.

Cuostralee - The best thing on sliced bread.
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Old February 1, 2021   #4
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I feel you, Bill. Let's hope this wet winter gives us a good summer.
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Old February 1, 2021   #5
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That would be very discouraging. Hopefully there can a a silver lining as Lee suggested
I hope spring brings a needed change and good growing weather
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Old February 2, 2021   #6
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Location: Alabama
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My biggest hope from the weather we are having this year is that the whiteflies that carry TYLCV will be pushed back. They have been a major problem the past three years and I hope it was due to the mild winters that allowed them to venture further north than usual. Those of you that have read many of my posts know that I am big on staggering my plantings of tomatoes so I can have fresh tomatoes right up til frost but the virus really messed my plantings. Last year I didn't set any tomatoes out after April or early May because I knew from the past two years that TYLCV would mean most of those young plants would never produce. Some of my older plants did make a few decent tomatoes in the fall despite the TYLCV virus afflicting them but all the younger plants and weaker plants succumbed to it in late summer.

Having lived here in this area for most of my 70 years I am used to rapid changes in the weather but this has been more up and down than I can ever remember. We have certainly had much colder winters that just destroy everything and some really extremely warm ones that make growing most winter veggies very difficult. Since fall it has been like watching a tennis match with the temps going back and forth so often requiring constant covering and uncovering.

I would love to see a long mild spring so my tomatoes have a chance to get big before our summer heat gets here. Hey and while I'm wishing an inch of rain each week would be nice too.

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Old February 2, 2021   #7
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Location: Newfoundland, Canada
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Hope you get it Bill!
The yo-yo is the worst weather, no doubt about it.

Our forecasts have been way off this past year, or at best they are closing in on it with very little advance notice. I'm told that all the commercial flights were providing a lot of wind speed data which the meteorologists are now having to do without. I guess the data from reduced numbers of flights has just not been enough!
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Old February 7, 2021   #8
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Location: Augusta area, Georgia, 8a/7b
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I feel for you, Bill. The two weeks of cold days and frosty nights are giving way to 60's-40/50's low for the next ten days before the bottom supposedly drops out again.

I have Chinese broccoli plants that are hardening off for a Feb 12 planting date which is in that more temperate window. But then I'll have to really protect them when the cold weather comes back. Yo Yo Weather... a good name for it. They'll get planted regardless as it's a "let's see how early I can plant stuff" thing. I have more plants coming on so if these get blasted despite protection, oh well.

Fall/winter carrots were planted here early September and there are still a lot "stored" in the ground. Mid Sep-mid Oct seems to be the sweet spot for planting here. I found that carrot seed here doesn't come up well when sown late fall. We pull as needed although some are splitting here and there with all the rain. My first post-op stroll to the garden this afternoon will be for pulling a few carrots and more scallions.

I've decided that my trial staggered planting of fall broccoli will do well just so far. The early fall-planted ones made nice heads but I believe the heads became progressively smaller over time as daylight decreased. Planting out dates were 8/4, 8/24, 9/2, 9/21, two plants each planting. The first two plantings produced just fine. The third was a lot smaller and forget the last one. Even side shoot production went to almost nothing for all plants during the short days. Next fall instead of planting 2 at each interval, I'll plant 3 for just three plantings and drop the last one.

As much as I like to try to stretch Mother Nature's growing windows, I'm realizing that "earlier" and "later" plantings will disappoint more often than not so I'm not counting on them any more. Disappointment's a pain in the butt but I'll still probably try to sneak in a few early and lates to see if I get pleasantly surprised now and then.
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Old February 12, 2021   #9
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: NC - zone 8a - heat zone 7
Posts: 4,904

I have few things that over winter
here, like, leeks, parsley. oregano,
Right now the soil is too cold
zo sow cool crops. I am doing
in my tiny cold frame. to get a
head start. Alliums do ok..
so does things like lettuce
broccoli rabe. chard. beets
For the warm season, i have
started few pepper vsrietie
and will do some tomatoes
early March.
Right now is just too damü

Happy Gardening !
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