Growing a garden in Lake Charles, Louisiana can be a rewarding experience. The truly Subtropical climate protects plants from hard freezes during the winter with warm Gulf Of Mexico breezes during the winter. In the summer and spring we get healthy doses of Nitrogen enriched rain. The growing season lasts until as long as November so you can even attempt growing bananas or citrus trees.
For the most part, the soil here is a hard, tacky clay, material. To avoid gardening in this mostly non fertile soil, I create raised beds using old railroad timbers in my yard shaped in a rectangular configuration. Next, I fill it with a load of top soil for $100. Finally, I top it off with pine bark mulch to keep the moisture in and provide nutrients to my plants naturally.
Working with a raised garden has many benefits. First you can isolate it from harsh rains that flood the soil and kill the roots of your plants. Second, you can dig a hole in the soft soil and bury old tree limbs or palm tree clippings. The raised bed encourages the distribution of oxygen to the microbes inside which turns the whole area into a vast compost pile.
What Can I Grow In Lake Charles, Louisiana?
My typical garden consists of Bell Peppers, Tomatoes and Red Peppers. While my planting choices seem rather simple, I have settled on these choices since they are relatively hardy and do not attract too many bugs to my yard.
Bell Peppers grow fast, can handle long dry periods and are resistant to many bugs. They grow in the rich pine bark mulch like crazy so I cut up the Bell Peppers and put them in my gumbo late in the season for a treat that brings a little natural flavor to my roux.
I grow tomatoes for about a month every year because they are much bigger than anything you can find in the store. I use a trellis to guide the stems and support the weight of the tomatoes. Soil preparation is simple, I just place a little lime or crawfish shells on next seasons growing area in November and let it settle over the winter. Microbes in the grown break down the material into a form that is readily consumable by the plants. True, my tomatoes are smaller than the massive ones seen on Miracle Grow commercials but I can say that I spend very little money preparing my soil every year.
My primary reason for growing a garden is to get fresh red peppers. Red peppers in Lake Charles, Louisiana grow like weeds and can even come up from seed the next season! Yet if we get a mild winter with no freezing, they the plant itself will come back on its own and yield red peppers very early in the season.
A Humid Subtropical Climate Can Still Have Droughts
Even though we live in the south just a few miles away from the Gulf Of Mexico, we must be prepared for at least a month without rain. My gardens incorporate two features to prevent drying of the soil: an irrigation maze and soaker hoses tilled into the soil.
Irrigation Mounds In Your Garden
Mound up your rows in a continuous winding snake like pattern. You can then fill it with water from one location and watch it reach the other side. I do this to ensure all plants get water and when it rains, the water flows from top to bottom. At the exit of the irrigation system, I place several old plastic bags on the ground beneath the timbers of the raised garden. The bags collect any run off and I simply lift them off the ground and dump the soil back inside.
For extreme drought conditions, I will forego filling the irrigation pathways with water and instead turn on the soaker hoses. If placed at the base of each plant in a long winding pattern, they will evenly disperse water to your entire garden.
Insects, Flying And Crawling Pests That You Should Know About
In many respects the tropical climate of Southwest Louisiana is unique to any other location in the world. We have crawfish that can borrow from underground and fire ants that can devour any fruit in a matter of hours. How you react to the residents of your garden is important because it will also affect the growth rate of your vegetables and fruit trees.
I only grow hardy species, as discussed earlier, because any plant with a sugar based fruit can be attacked by these insects. Since, I do not like using harsh chemicals which can harm my dogs, my yearly crop is very limited.
To kill the fire ants, I first water the base of the mound at slow trickle for an hour. The fire ants move the queen and eggs to the top thinking it is raining. Finally, I just pour a gallon of boiling water on the top of the mound killing many of them instantly. The stragglers then move the dead outside the pile and consume all their energy in the process. They will all soon die in less than 48 hours.
I hope you learned something new from this guide. To help in your search for more information on this topic, you should only consider government sponsored sources, since they will not be focused on selling products that have false marketing claims.
Here are a few of my favorite gardening websites: