Moving from Ohio to Alabama

ediej1209(5 N Central OH)February 17, 2014

We will be moving sometime this year to northern Alabama, up in the mountains. I imagine gardening there will be quite different than what I have been used to. I don't even know what Hardiness Zone the area is. I do know that it is just a few inches of very sandy soil over rock so the soil will probably need LOTS of amendments. Anybody here from around that area? If so, with what do you amend your garden? When do you start tomato and pepper seeds for planting out? Is it even worth trying to grow cool weather cole and lettuce crops? So much to think about my head is already starting to spin...


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Northeastern AL is either 7a or 7b, depending where you are and the altitude. It's going to be much warmer than you are used to in the summer, and you'll have a longer growing season - ~200 days. Last frost is early-mid April and first frost is late Oct to early Nov.

Winters it gets cold but they are generally fairly mild with little snow. This year is the exception! That also means when it does snow, you can count on being snowed in for a day because the roads turn to ice and there isn't much in the way of road treatment.

I planted out cool weather crops yesterday (peas, radishes, carrots, lettuce, etc.) and the few summer plants I start ahead (tomatoes, peppers and basil) were started last week.

The hardiest of cole crops like spinach, cabbage and kale will overwinter most years. The trick is getting them in the ground in the late summer/fall at the right time to put on most of their growth before it gets cold -- and fall and spring are notoriously fickle and short lived here. Spring is usually not long enough for cole crops except greens.

Congrats on your pending move!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 3:30PM
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Hi Edie!

I can't offer you anything in the way of advice on gardening in north Alabama, but I sure am jealous. Northern Alabama is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the state.

It puts you within easy driving distance of many other attractions: from Memphis, TN to Guntersville, Huntsville, Mentone & esp. Little River Canyon National Preserve. Drive a short distance NE to one of America's most beautiful (and unsung) cities - Chattanooga, TN, with attractions galore (and a world-class aquarium).

Then travel south through the charming, old-South college town of Jacksonville, AL to Anniston, Cheaha State Park (highest point in AL) and beyond. Even dare, one week, to enjoy our white-sand beaches and the semi-tropical allure of the Alabama Gulf Coast!

You're gonna love Alabama, believe me! With all the natural beauty and attractions at hand, you'll have no reason to be bored! And, there are some pretty awesome nurseries north of where I live (central AL), just in case you "might" happen to like gardening!

Welcome in advance,

Vincent, AL

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 10:06PM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

Thank you all so much! I am looking forward to the move. My son already lives down there, and I promised him we would head down that way once I retire. So I'm just about to that point, all we have to do is wait for the house up here to sell and we will be on our way. I'm just trying to get a feel for some of the different challenges we will be having in putting in a garden someplace so different from what I have known all my life. Ah, well, change... it's what keeps life interesting, yes?!

Soon to be from Dutton, AL!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 11:04AM
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topsiebeezelbub(z7 Al)

Coming from California, I think it is too cold here! Last year my winter garden (planted in Nov.) was spectacular...lettuce, arugula, 5 kinds of kale, collards, chickory, spinach, snow peas, etc...this year, nothin'. It is very unpredictable. Get rain barrels on all your gutters for the long drought we always get from July to late October. Use tons of compost (I have a pet rabbit and lots of leaves)...maybe a worm bin. The county extension man says our soil lacks organic matter because it is so hot in summer it just burns up, so adding compost is never ending. Never add sand. Get your soil analyzed by the county extension. If you move near Huntsville, the guys at Earthtouch garden center are very helpful. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 12:45PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Welcome! I moved to Huntsville a little over ten years ago and have loved it from day one. The diversity, the physical beauty, the full four seasons, the quality of living, just can't be beat.

Yours doesn't sound like the ideal gardening situation! Be sure to spend some time with your local extension people. Hopefully, it's a good bunch of people.

You will be able to grow anything and everything that you grew in Ohio....and more. The planting time will be different, is all. Your extension office will be able to provide you with a vegetable planting guide.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 5:42PM
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madabouteu(8A - central Alabama)

The local extension agent can help you with planting dates. There is also a Master Gardener Helpline active April 1 - September 30, where you can call for help and to request publications that will help you decide what to plant and when. The county extension office can give you the number to call. In general, fungal diseases are a huge problem here because of the high humidity and heat - many tomatoes fall victim to such diseases. A for what to add to your soil, you will want to take a sample to send it to Auburn University; they will tell you what to add and how much of it. Again, the county extension office can provide a sample box and instructions on how to take the sample.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 4:49PM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

Thank you all - I do appreciate your sharing advice and expertise. Once we actually get down there and get a garden spot picked out I will be sure to talk with the Extension Office.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 8:22PM
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OK Edie,

Enough garden talk. Let the burden of broaching this subject lie squarely on my shoulders: you can send your dirt to All-barn University, but lend your support to the big red elephants of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide! Recently voted college football's greatest legacy by ESPN voters.

If your son has lived here for any length of time he can probably explain the strange fixation we have on college football in this state. "Roll Tide!", (and hoping that tonight's storm doesn't "roll" you this way unexpectedly!)

All in fun, sort of ;-D


    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 9:46PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi Edie! I moved to south AL from central OH almost 8 years ago, absolutely love it! I'm not in the same climate/zone you'll be moving to, but also wanted to welcome you to the state and wish you luck with your move. Hope you enjoy AL as much as I have! The one thing I still can't adjust to is just a feature of living for so long at one end of a time zone, then going to the other extreme - it sure gets dark early!

Here's some info to help you get acclimated... gathered over the years from different sources. (Of course this is all in jest, I'm transplanted here by choice.)

The North has Bloomingdale's, the South has Dollar General.
The North has coffee houses, the South has Waffle Houses.
The North has dating services, the South has family reunions.
In the North, directions involve street signs; Southern directions always include landmarks which no longer exist (turn left where the Jones' ol' barn used t'be.)
The North has double last names; the South has double first names.
The North has Indy car races; The South has stock car races.
Northerners mow their lawns in the afternoon; Southerners cut their grass at 6:30 am.
North has Cream of Wheat, the South has grits.
The North has green salads, the South has collard greens.
The North has lobsters, the South has crawfish.
The North has dressing, the South has stuffing.
The North has the rust belt, the South has the Bible Belt.
The North has road rage, the South has waving & smiling.
The North has traffic jams consisting of only cars, the Southern traffic jam is usually caused by a cow or tractor.
The North has carts at the grocery store, the South has buggies.
The North has 972 kinds of mustard, the South has 4.
The North has about 5 kinds of hotdogs, the South has 639.
The North has MANY kinds of fish in restaurants, the South has 1: catfish.
Northerners ride IN cars, Southerners ride ON cars.
In the North you are given a ride, in the South you are carried.
In the North restaurants are judged by the quality of the food, in the South restaurants are judged by the quality of the sweet tea.
Northerners are getting ready to do something, Southerners are fixin' to.
In the North people pay auto repair shops to make their cars quieter, in the South they pay to make their trucks louder.
The North has auto-parts stores, the South has the parts house.
Northerners see a 4-way stop as an inconvenient obstacle with actual stopping being optional, Southerners will not go through unless and until everyone has waved each other through at least 3 times.
In the North, BBQ indicates some kind of meat with sauce on it, in the South BBQ indicates how the meat was cooked. There probably ain't no sauce, so don't bother askin'.
In the North, they go home, down South, they go to the house.
Northerners pay their power bill, Southerners pay the light bill.
The North has car inSURance, the South has INsurance.


You won't find a deli, but will...

1 Like    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 10:18AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Edie, don't let purple's malarkey scare you, lol.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 10:25AM
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Yeah, it's only about half malarkey.

Which half depends on where you are in the South. Except the part about being proficient marksmen with a shotgun. The shotgun is for fun. The rifle is for serious shootin'. :)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 11:10AM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)


Yeah, we already have hats/teeshirts and watch every Alabama football game. Roll Tide!! The only time there is going to be a problem is if somehow Alabama and OSU play each other. Then things could get REAL interesting around the neighborhood! (My son and DIL are going to be living smack dab between us and her parents once we get down there...)

And the first time I heard my son's mother-in-law talk about getting a buggy at the grocery store I was looking to see who had a baby in tow!!!!!!

Thanks bunches - I'm already really starting to look forward to the move.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 11:55AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Edie, don't let purple's malarkey scare you, lol. I meant to say that it was only half true, haha!

This post was edited by rhizo_1 on Fri, Feb 21, 14 at 13:15

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 1:05PM
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hello and welcome, edie!
i live in east central alabama, near auburn.
you might have to give up your lilacs when you get down here but it's not a bad tradeoff for these.
gardenias - highly fragrant evergreen shrubs.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 4:09PM
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"Saving all manner of bacon grease?". did I miss that one! Bacon grease is like crystal meth to a Southerner. As a miracle drug it's up there with aspirin or a stiff drink of "Southern Comfort". You go porky pig! You GO! And Edie, I do like that you "spoke" the words "Roll Tide!

;-D Oink!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 11:14PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

"...if somehow Alabama and OSU play each other...."

Oh wow. Besides wearing red of course, I wouldn't know what to do either, but it should probably not be done in public. You and I can figure this out privately if confronted! We've already said too much. Go Bu, uh, I mean, Roll Tide!

Thought of another one, up north they get pissed off, down here, they have a come-apart.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 10:25AM
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Bamatufa(7 - Trussville, AL)

....and you will need add a couple of sleeveless "wife beater" t-shirts to your wardrobe.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 4:18PM
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Hi Edie, and welcome! It's ok (being from Ohio). I'm from Alabama and I married one of you Ohioans! He's a keeper. He came here with Uncle Sam in the 60's and never left. I was born here. I call him a 'Carpetbagger'. He calls me his Southern Belle Dudette. I Roll Tide and he does that other thing people from Ohio do and also that Rocky Top thing for some reason. I don't know why. You will enjoy the fun here too as you can see.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 4:06PM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

"...that other thing people from Ohio do" O-H - I-O LOL!!!

Yep, the reason we are moving is that our Ohio bred-and-born son married a 'Bama girl. She is the darling of all of our lives!

Maybe once we get down there we can join in on some of the swap meets!

Thanks for the warm welcomes :^)


    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 5:04PM
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Didn't " Big Al" beat OSU some years ago? We are moving to Big Al country sometime next year( God willing) . And the creek don't rise. Met my husband in Dayton,Oh. (Pronounced ihi) up there. Moved to La , Mobile, Evadale, Tx
Now moving to northern Al. Grew up in Greenville.
Hope to meet you good folks at the swap meets.
Purple where can I get a copy of that . Love it.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2014 at 1:13AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi Josephene! Good luck with your move.

Are you able to copy/paste that? If not, I'm happy to email it to you. Send me a PM if you want. Please type your email address in the message, depending on settings on GardenWeb, some PM's arrive anonymously, unable to reply.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2014 at 10:19AM
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catbird(z7 AL)

Welcome to Alabama! Back to gardening for a moment - if you're on the mountain, there's probably solid rock under that few inches of sandy soil. In that case, you may have to build some raised beds and bring in top soil to fill them. On a slope you can probably build terraces and fill behind them with soil.

A lot of us cheer for both of the big state universities when they're not playing each other. When it's Iron Bowl time, though, it's all one or the other. You'll learn to check the football schedules before planning any weekend events in the Fall.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2014 at 10:54AM
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Candace Seaton

I live in Huntsville and visited Dutton once. The elevation was higher than Huntsville so it was much cooler and breezy, while back home in the valley we were sweltering. You will enjoy it. The only things you won't be able to grow well are lilacs and tulips...they will be annuals there. The soil is heavy clay and will need lots of compost to aerate it, but once prepared will grow things well. If you plant Rhodos or Azaleas, plant very high and mulch around the root ball, as they will choke to death planted in heavy soil. This is true of many plants, as drainage is poor and winter is rainy. Many plants, like lavender and thyme, do better in pots. Our temps usually go from 20s in winter and 100s in summer, though 0 and snow happens now and then. You will be within easy driving distance to some world class nurseries, especially in Winchester, Tn. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2015 at 3:20PM
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