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Tip for gardening in the South: Put lime on it

I have been having a garden for about 13-14 years now. The first one I had was here in Thomson and, believe me, it was nothing to write home about. The biggest problem I had was it was too crowded. Live and learn, though.

Through the years I have had my share of problems. Mostly it was blossom rot that gave me headaches but there was a time in Virginia where the plants were not marked correctly at the store so instead of a good mix of celebrities and big boys, I had 20 cherry tomato plants instead. These plants produced a ton of tomatoes.

Then there was the time in North Carolina where I had a nice sunny plot out in the country and had big plans to can a lot of tomatoes only to be eaten up by some worm that normally feeds off the tobacco plant roots.

When we had a down year in this crop, these worms turned their attention to the roots on the tomato plant. With blossom rot, once you find evidence of it you can at least stop it and salvage some harvest. Not so when these worms cut loose on your plants, you lose the entire thing. So that was disappointing.

At my South Carolina house, I gardened out of pots on the deck due to the lack of sun in my yard. But no matter where or how I grew tomatoes I always had some level of blossom rot. Not this year.

Former employee and friend Lynn Broach gave me some good advice and said to throw lime on them. I later asked feed man Wormy Newton how much and how often I should put it on and he told me you can't overdo it. I ended up putting lime on just about everything and that seems to have done the trick.

We have canned a bunch and given away even more. But it's not just the tomatoes, the jalapenos, cayennes, banana peppers and green peppers have done well too.

I ran into Larry Kent at the fireworks show and we got to talking about cayennes and how he'll fix a pot of beans and eat a couple of peppers with it. That's what I fixed last Sunday for dinner. Good stuff.

I have also had a good crop of squash, cucumbers, basil and dill and even tried growing radishes for the first time.

They did well, but I learned you need to stagger the planting of these as they mature quickly and don't keep long in the fridge.

Usually about this time of year, when we actually get to take a vacation I will be 'over' the garden experience. If you leave a garden unattended for a week it is usually overgrown with weeds. We have not been able to get away this year and my son has been doing a good job staying ahead of the weeds and the garden is still doing well.

You just can't beat a summer in the South as long as you remember to throw lime on it.

Web posted on Thursday, July 22, 2010

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