Garden Planting: March 17th 2016 Zone 7b – Atlanta, Ga

Here in my Zone 7b Garden, on the West side of the the Greater Atlanta area, one could almost garden year ’round. In fact, that is my intent.  I have no ‘real’ gardening experience. I’ve thrown a couple of seeds in the ground before, and they have grown, but that was mostly mother nature.

My Crops have been burnt, dried, attacked by pests and diseases and have generally died when the squelching summer heat arrives.  They say … my average frost date here is March 15th. Only problem, I’ve seen blizzards hit (yes, in Georgia) in April and ice storms in May. I’ve also seen 75F Temps on Christmas Day. In fact the adage here is, “…if you don’t like the weather in Georgia, just give it 10-15 minutes.”

Over the years I have tried various garden methods with mixed success. This year, I am pitting 3 of those methods against one another.

1st, we have the typical garden bed, 2 actually. One is made of cinder blocks, with a pool liner and some soil mixture. It seems kind of sandy, and gets quite packed when wet. The other bed IMG_4276IMG_4270is framed with rocks from an old river bed, and also lined with plastic, though thinner. The Rock garden is maybe 4-6″ deep, whereas the cinder garden is 3 bricks, or about 18″ deep and measures 4’x8′. Also the Rock garden was filled using leaf mold and soil scraped from the ground in a wooded area. This bed is soft and fluffy, and drains a little too well!

75g tub for Wicking bed

2nd, is a wicking bed. It is a 75gal water trough (tub) purchased from the local feed n seed. It also has a pre-installed threaded drain hole.  I filled the bottom of the tank with old plastic sports drink bottles with holes drilled in the bottle. I then covered this with some silt fencing, (meshed fabric) and filled with soil. This essentially gives me a water storage reservoir some 5″ deep, then topped with potting soil and sphagnum moss to an additional depth of about 8″.  The soil acts as a sponge, wicking the water up towards the roots.


IMG_4139Finally, we have an aquaponics system. (2) 275 gal IBC totes, with the tops cut off and connected by a 3/4″ pipe. Fathead minnows in one tank and catfish fingerlings in the other. I have had these fish since the middle of October last year, (2015). It is something of an accomplishment having kept them alive throughout the winter. Now comes the really tough part, keeping the buggers alive during the summer!

Today, March 17th, 2016, marks the day that I planted the last of this years early crops in the ground. The cinder block garden had some sphagnum moss and (4) 1 cu. yard bags of garden soil added to the sandy soil. A shovel was used to break up the top 4-6″ of sandy soil and then mixed together.

IMG_4277In this bed we planted 6 tomato plants. (2) ea of pink brandywine and a purple heirloom. I also added (1) Red Beefsteak and  (1) Better Bunch tomato, which is just a good looking red tomato.   I planted seeds for (4) squash, (2) cantaloupe and (2) ‘others’.  The tomatoes were planted as deep as their 1st set of leaves, and each has a tomato cage for support. These were starters, picked up at the local home improvement store. After watering in the tomatoes, some Magnesium Sulfate was added to the soil.

4 Beans and 2 Peppers
Yellow Peppers

The Rock garden,  has sweet onions around the edges. I added (2) yellow pepper starters, (4) green bean starters, along with (4) squash seeds and (1) gourd. This was also topped with Magnesium. IMG_4262

Level ground is at a premium here, so the wicking bed is inside a greenhouse in front of the garage. It houses (2) tomato plants, split from one starter, and (2) sets of beans planted in front of each tomato cage.   There are also (3) heads of Romaine lettuce starters, along  with (1) line each of cabbage / iceberg lettuce and carrot / radish, these last four from seeds.  Again, IMG_4264magnesium was added after watering. My wicking bed has a 2″ pipe for adding water directly to the reservoir.  To  this  I  also  added  (1) scoop each of Potassium Sulfate, Chelated Iron and Calcium.  As an added note, I also picked up a flat of (6) strawberry plants, and planted these in (2) low planter boxes placed in front of the garage greenhouse.


Finally,  the  aquaponics  system  is  growing  18  heads of Romaine  lettuce  in  a  floating  raft  system  using  net  pots  and  hydroton  to  hold  the  young  plants in place. These  are  then  placed  in  2  of  the 4  styrofoam  boards, each  a  little  over 24″  long.  I  feel  I  am  ready  to  expand  this  system  utilizing  the  other  2 boards. I must admit, however, that I am concerned that the warm weather here may cause them to bolt to seed. I am searching for other plants that will do well in this system and climate.  This  hoop  house  was  made  using  3/4″  pvc piping,  various  fittings,  some  plastic  sheathing  and  cinder blocks  to  hold  it  all  in  place.  The  hoop  house  shown  here  was  built  for  less  than  $100. Hopefully, in the future, I will be adding spec sheets on the greenhouse, wicking beds and floating raft system, as well as specs on the fish tanks and water delivery system.



5 thoughts on “Garden Planting: March 17th 2016 Zone 7b – Atlanta, Ga

  1. I have been searching for bloggers that are gardeners in the zone 7 area. I live in Australia but am going to be in the US in July and hope to build my daughter a veggie garden. I love using wicking beds here in tropical Australia, although I am in zone 10, so plant a few different vegetables. What an interesting idea to use plastic bottles in the bottom of the wicking bed.


    1. TY for your response, and phunny you should mention Australia … It was a youtube video from Australia where I got the idea! Isn’t the internet wonderful?? I drill holes in the platic bottles to allow the water to move through, while still maintaining the rigidy of the bottle, which I need to ‘lift’ the floor to just above flood level.

      Keep the comments coming!!


  2. This looks good!!!! You’ve been busy in so many ways! I’m so happy to see that. Keep on keeping on! Thanks for the kick to get me started! Washington Pete


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