Warm-Season Vegetable Planting Chores for Georgia

Warm-season vegetable planting time is almost here for most of Georgia.  Here is your “to-do” list from UGA’s Vegetable Garden Calendar for this time of year:

Warm-Season Vegetable Planting Chores for Georgia
Belvedere Community Garden
  • Get rows ready for “warm-season” vegetables to be planted during the last week of March or first week or two of April as weather permits.  Check your soil temperatures at georgiaweather.net.
  • You might want to risk planting out a few of the more tender crops and keeping them covered during bad weather.
  • Watch out for insects, especially cutworms, plant lice (aphids) and red spider mites.
  • Put down mulch between rows to control weeds.
  • Plant your choices of the following “warm-season” or “frost-tender” crops: beans (snap, pole and lima), cantaloupe, corn (sweet), cucumbers, eggplant, okra, field peas, peppers, squash, tomatoes and watermelon.
  • Plant tall-growing crops such as okra, pole beans and corn on the north side of other vegetables to avoid shading. Plant two or more rows of corn for better pollination.
  • Make a second planting within two to three weeks of the first planting of snap beans, corn and squash.
  • Within three to four weeks of the first planting, plant more lima beans and corn. Remember: for better pollination, plant at least two or more rows.
  • Be sure to plant enough vegetables for canning and freezing.
  • Cultivate to control weeds and grass, to break crusty soil and to provide aeration.
  • For the crops planted earlier, side-dress as described above.
  • Plant tender herbs.
  • Remember: Do not work in your garden when the foliage is wet to avoid spreading diseases from one plant to another.

Contact your local UGA Extension office if you need any help choosing varieties!

Happy Gardening!


Three More Critical Saw Safety Features

Three More Critical Saw Safety Features

Safety first…because accidents last.

The throttle interlock trigger prevents the throttle from engaging accidentally. If the interlock is not depressed, the throttle cannot engage. The feller must have his left hand firmly on the handle to depress the interlock and trigger at the same time. The throttle interlock prevents the chain from being driven if the trigger is accidentally engaged.

The broad bottom of the handle and the chain catch work together to protect you if the chain breaks. Turn the saw over and take a look at the chain catch. These break off and get lost occasionally. They can be purchased at the saw shop and easily replaced.

If the throttle interlock is not functioning properly, the handle is damaged, or the chain catch is missing, the saw should be immediately locked out of service and tagged for repair. Take the bar off so nobody grabs the saw and loads it up.

Georgia Ag Awareness Week

This is Georgia Ag Awareness Week, a week that has been set aside to celebrate Georgia’s agricultural industry.  There are events planned across the state to connect farmers with schools, to support local food banks, and to celebrate eating local.

As community and school gardeners we are all well aware of how hard it is sometimes to grow our own food.  It can seem like disease, pests, and weather are all against us.  But, we know that if we fail we can rely on the grocery store to fill our dinner plates.   And, we all want to eat as local as we possibly can.  Thank you Georgia farmers!

We are all a small part of Georgia Ag by raising our own food, growing food for Farmers Markets, and/or supplying food for your local food banks.  Take a moment to celebrate what you do!  It is important.

If you want to really get involved in the celebration this week, take a look at recipes featuring Georgia products.  Several of the crops won’t be in season yet, but you should be able to find something delicious for your dinner table.  What are you growing in your garden that you are harvesting now?  The warm winter means I have delicious greens at my house and I will be hosting a Georgia Grown dinner during the week.

Goods and services related to Georgia’s agriculture and natural resources affect each of the state’s communities every day. Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry, with $74.9 billion of direct and indirect economic impact annually. More than 411,000 Georgia jobs are involved directly in commodity or food- and fiber-related industries.

UGA Extension faculty and staff play a key role in the success of this industry by sharing university-based research for Georgians to use on the farm and at home. Recommendations in areas including soil fertility, pest management, plant and crop varieties, water quality, and herd health and management focus on maximizing production and profits while minimizing environmental impacts.  Make sure you are connected with your local UGA Cooperative Extension office!

Happy Georgia Ag Awareness Week!  #GAAgWeek  #agdawg


Inertia Chain Brake

Inertia Chain Brake

Avoid the worst. Put safety first.

The inertia chain brake is a very important safety feature of the modern chain saw. It improves the safe use of the chainsaw in 3 separate ways:

  1. It acts as a hand guard protecting your left hand from being slapped and stabbed by tree branches while limbing, bucking, and clearing.
  2. When activated between cuts it can prevent you from getting accidentally cut while walking. If you were to slip or trip while traveling between cuts, natural reaction could cause you to squeeze the trigger, potentially cutting yourself in a variety of gruesome ways. ANSI and OSHA standards recommend taking no more than 3 steps without engaging the chain brake. Glen Peroni of North American Training Solutions suggests activating the brake when you take even one step.
  3. In the event of sudden or rapid movement of the chainsaw, such as when kickback occurs, the brake is designed to engage automatically through the force of inertia. Since kickback occurs suddenly and with great force most people cannot react fast enough to activate the chain brake manually. Chainsaw manufacturers spent a lot of time and money researching a way to help us. The chainsaw brake handle, brake spring, and band are designed to be of the perfect weight and tension to activate at kickback by the rapid movement of the saw. It is similar to a seat belt in a car; it works when you need it.

Test this safety feature on your saw.

Set a piece of wood or log on the ground. Hold the saw in front, at approximately shoulder level, with the brake disengaged. Then simply let the saw fall onto the piece of wood. The chain brake should activate. If after 3 tries it does not activate the chainsaw should be taken out of service until the brake can be fixed. Normally this means it needs a good cleaning.

What is the best way to lockout-tagout a saw?

Take the bar off. That way nobody is likely to put it on a truck and take it out.

Kickback Demonstration by Chainsaw Instructor Joe Glenn

Joe demonstrates kickback here and you can see the chain brake activates on the third demo.

Always Remember to Use Your Chain Brake

This is one of Peroni’s incredible saw sound imitations. You can hear the clicking on and off of the chain brake. How many steps does he take while limbing this tree?

Growing the Underappreciated Radish

If you haven’t grown radishes in your garden, you should.  They are the underappreciated cool-season vegetable and perfect for raised beds in the community or school garden.  What radishes have going for them:

  • They mature quickly, sometimes as short as 28 days!
  • They are nutritious – full of vitamin C, vitamin K and B6
  • They are easy to grow

Radishes also come in many shapes and sizes.   The variety “Watermelon” is large, think soft ball size, but the traditional “Cherry Bell” is smaller.  “Icicle” is long and white, almost like a small carrot.  Visit your local feed-and-seed stores to see what varieties they have available or order from one the seed catalog companies.


The seeds are small but easy to plant in a prepared bed with plenty of drainage:

After the seeds are spread, cover with 1/4 -1/2 inch of soil and tamp down the soil using a light touch.  This ensures good seed to soil contact.

Finally, cover with mulch to keep the soil temperature and moisture levels even.  Water in and keep the soil slightly moist until the seeds germinate.  Thin using scissors, not pulling up seedlings.

Start looking at your radish recipes because your crop will come in quickly!

Happy Gardening!

Finding Grant Money for Your Garden

One of the most frequent questions I hear is “how do I get grant money for my garden?”  The answer is not simple.  But, here are a few hints to help you be ready when the perfect grant application comes your way:

Keep Records

Does your garden donate produce to a food bank?  If so, do you keep records of how much food is donated?

Do you  host community events?  What about story time for students in the summer?  How many students attend?

These events could matter with certain grants.  So, keep records of dates and numbers of attendees.   This task be a great job for a garden manager or designated volunteer.

Take Photos

Many grant applications open in the winter months when your garden is probably not looking its best. Take photos of your garden during the spring and summer months.  Many grantors want to see your space and pictures may be required for the grant application.

Finding Grant Money for Your Garden
This photo of story time in the Healthy Life Community Garden in Griffin is a great example of a photo to keep in your garden archives.

Think Local

When looking for grant monies, think local first.  Your local hardware or landscape store may be willing to donate materials without a grant application.  Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are often looking for projects for their Eagle Scout and Gold Awards.  Boy Scouts especially enjoy building projects like benches and garden beds.

Also, your local high school’s National Honor Society and Beta Club may require their members to do community service.  They may be able to assist with a few of your garden chores.

Find Out About Large Company Grants

Large companies like Walmart and Home Depot have grant programs.  Walmart’s Community Grant Program is an annual program.  Home Depot’s Community Impact Grant application process is open now.

Keep In Touch with Your Local UGA Extension Office

UGA Extension agents would be contacted if there was a garden grant specifically for your county.  By keeping in touch with your Extension office, you would be informed about any of these opportunites.

Happy Gardening!

Mechanical Advantage with Ropes and Knots

Mechanical Advantage with Ropes and Knots

Carefulness costs you nothing. Carelessness may cost you your life.

When applying mechanical advantage (MA), the rope and knots are as important as the pulleys.

You will need more rope to make more force. For example, a 5:1 mechanical advantage will need five feet of line for every one foot gained.

Anytime a knot is tied in a rope, the rope is weakened. In drop tests and pull tests, a rope typically breaks at the knot. Attaching the pulleys to the pull line with midline knots reduces strength. A better option is to use a separate Prusik cord or a hitch such as the Valdotain Tresse Knot (VT). This retains rope strength while allowing adjustment. Phillip Kelley will show you how to do a modified VT in the video below.

In MA systems, there should be some form of control in case the pulleys meet and become two-blocked. The load must to be held in place until a new pull can be made. Attaching the pulleys with a Prusik cord will hold the load while attaching the other end of the MA system using a separate rope and tying a VT allows for one pulley to be slid away from the other. The video below demonstrates this.

Valdotain Tresse Knot for Climbing and Rigging

Phillip Kelley of North American Training Solutions demonstrate a fast, easy VT that you can use to tie on to the pull line.

This great little video demonstrates how the VT and Prusik knots can be used to correct two-block.

Gardening in this Crazy Georgia Weather

The calendar says the beginning of March.  Usually this means Georgia is just coming out of cold temperatures but we are still cool.   We have had snow in years past the first of March.  Not this year; this year it seems we haven’t really had a winter.  Tree pollen counts in Atlanta are already registering in the “high” range.  The birds are chirping and the insects are flying.  How does a gardener plant in this weather?

Soil Temperature is the Key

Remember that soil temperature is the key for seed germination and root growth.  Checking www.georgiaweather.net this week the soil temperatures at a 4 inch depth across the state are:

Blue Ridge 45.6 F
Alpharetta 43.8 F
Pine Mountain 52.1 F
Valdosta 60.4 F

Cool-Season Vegetable Planting Time is NOW

Alabama Cooperative Extension has created a very useful chart listing the soil temperature conditions for vegetable seed germination.   Consulting this chart we see that it is time, and it has been for awhile, to put in your cool-season plants in most of Georgia:  lettuce, spinach, carrots, cabbage, radish.  Even though you might be able to plant these seeds wearing your shorts and a tank top, it is still cool-season planting time.  Don’t wait any longer.

Gardening in this Crazy Georgia Weather
Carrots at the Gwinnett Tech Food Garden

There have been reports of lettuce and spinach already bolting because of our warm afternoons.  Don’t let that tempt you to purchase the tomatoes already for sale.  It is not time yet!

Gardening in this Crazy Georgia Weather
Lettuce in the Trustees Garden, Savannah

Hold off on your peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, and other warm-season crops until later.  It is too cold to plant tomato plants in central to north Georgia!  If tomatoes are planted in ground that is too cool for growth, the plants may not die but they will not grow just waiting until things underground warm up.

Good Gardening News!

The good news is Georgia has had a nice amount of rain over the last couple of months so the soil should be in great shape for planting.  The long-term weather outlook seems just about perfect for cool-season vegetables.  For those of you (myself included) who did not plant this past fall because of drought conditions, you can plant with confidence now.

Being a gardener is never, ever dull.  Each year brings its own challenges.  I wish you all a wonderful Spring harvest!

Happy Gardening!