Monday, January 26, 2009


I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that I was trying to squeeze some broccoli in before my summer garden. My family loved the broccoli I grew during the fall, it was sooo tender and tasty that they ate about 18 plants and side shoots in about 2-3 weeks! Alright maybe it was 3-4 weeks.

Anyway, I started some a couple weeks ago and transplanted them into peat pots today. Here's some pics:

I love these styrofaom seed starters. I believe I got them from Parks Seeds. They're reusable & I usually get a pretty high germination rate. If a seed doesn't germinate, I just re-use the plug.

Then just take the plug & put it in a peat pot. (sold at lowes)

I use a basic potting mix.

You know those aren't my hands, manly plumber men are too stubborn to wear gloves.

I got the trays from Parks seeds. They're very versatile, they're big enough for the styrofaom seed starter and then hold about 18 medium peat pots.

Add water with a weak fertilizer and the peat pots with soak the water up from the bottom. That helps the roots grow down & deep.

And then back under the lights for a week or two. The ones up top are about 8 little broccoli that I had to re-seed because I burned them last week when I was trying to keep them warm. I put a heater a little too close!

The Garden Flip-Off.....

So I was blogging the other day on one of my favorite blogs,, and was engaged in a serious debate. Well right in the middle of the dabate a lady, who knows I'm the Conservative Gardener, gave me a Garden Flip-Off :

"Until you have life growing in your womb, your opinion means nothing to someone who needs financial support to provide a medical need to end a the growth of a life so that can she can support the life that is already here. Go plant some artichokes and while you are at it, please tell Edit _ Mommies about ..........."

Whoa! Go plant some artichokes! lololol! If only she knew how hard it is to grow artichokes. (esp. in florida)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Manly Tomato......

True story...... I was talking to an old friend a few months back. Not just any old friend mind you. You see my friend Bruce was my first friend in Florida after I moved here from New England. I moved here when I was 17 after going to school with the same 54 kids from 1st grade through 11th. If I remember correctly all 54 kids were white, Catholic and used to snow days. When I arrived at Deland High School in 1983 it was a completely different world. Bruce, originally from Florida, befriended me and taught me things I've never considered or seen. Like skipping school so we could spend the day at Daytona Beach. Back in New England the beach didn't have quite the same attraction! After (barely!) graduating we became plumbers together, got married, had kids and our families were tight. Now we didn't become just plumbers together, we became the best, toughest, hardest working, smartest and manliest plumbers together. Not the fat plumber that you call to come fix your leak under your sink with his butt crack hanging out. We were that guys boss. No, we were new construction plumbers. The ones that plan, design and install the plumbing in your new house or office. We were tough & smart. We could dig all day installing pipe in the Florida sun , carry a 300lb tub to your 2nd floor bathroom and party afterword and then do it again the next day, and the next day, and then the next day. Tough, smart & tan. Manly men.

Well as time went on, divorce, age, drugs and life changes happened and I moved to Ocala and didn't see much of him. As the past 15 years have gone by we've stayed barely in touch, growing farther and farther apart.

Hence, the phone call.

Bruce said, "So, haven't seen you in you have any hobbies?"

Immediately I started thinking "Ummmm, I'm 42 with 4 kids, a struggling business trying to survive, I don't have any hobbies.......I suck!..... Oh wait! My garden!". So I said "Well actually I garden"

The Manly Man Plumber said, "Oh..... garden....... that's pretty cool, what do you grow, tulips and flowers"?

Feeling kinda girlie I said, "No, no (actually yes) I grow (a more manly) vegetables, like tomatoes".

"Oh, tomatoes. Very nice.", the manly man said.

Trying to justify I said, " Yeah, you should see how much digging is involved"!

"Cool" he said and we moved on to another topic and then hung up.

After the phone call I started to think "You know I love gardening. I love growing veggies for my vegetarian wife. I love not paying grocery store prices for veggies and I love the spiritual connection I get from tilling the ground".

I'll always love ya Bruce, but I've moved on to growing Manly Tomatoes.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Freezer Burn!

It was 22 degrees yesterday, 27 degrees today and we have a little damage. It's my first winter garden and I thought the cold crops were indestructible. I was wrong. Here's a couple pics.....

Very frosty. Maybe frost makes cabbage taste better!

This is what happens when I'm in charge.

All you Yankees up there, look how bad we've got it!

I know this has nothing to do with cold weather, but I hate it when this happens.
Notice my little radishes coming up.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A little Catching Up......

Since I've only had my own blog page for a few weeks I thought I might post some pictures and stories about who I am and what I do. Yes, of course I'm a gardener. And as I mentioned in the "about me" section I'm also a Plumbing Contractor and I own a (struggling) plumbing business. But that's not all there is. I'm also a short term missionary. I've been to Cuba, Venezuela, Romania, Hungary, Honduras, Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, & other misc. Carribbean Islands. Next month I'm off to Nicaragua. A lot of my trips are construction orientated, like building schools, churches, houses, etc. Sometimes we'll bring humanitarian supplies like powdered milk, hygiene stuff, books, food or, believe it or not, baseball equipment. The Cubans love to play baseball! And other times I might go as a teacher or speaker.

So I'm going to start with a few pictures from my last Cuba trip which I believe was in the summer of 2007. Check it out:

cuba 006cuba 009cuba 022
Me & my friend Asmanti looking over the construction of his new house, which is being
built on top of somebody else's house. Upper left is one of his friends working on the roof.
Upper right is the Plumbing Contractor (me) checking out his HUGE bathroom.

cuba 058cuba 057
cuba 064 cuba 062

cuba 032 cuba 025 cuba 068

cuba 051 cuba 183
Back in time. Top middle is the Havana airport. Top right is a picture of electrical
meters for a building I was walking by. I took the picture from the sidewalk.

cuba 148 cuba 153
Did I mention the Cubans love to play baseball? That's me on the left and
my friend Asmanti (who played for the Cuban National team) on the right.

cuba 082
Yeah, I took a picture of the plumbing. But look, that's the shower head and
the water heater all in one! Just don't get the wires wet!

cuba 173 cuba 174
cuba 182 cuba 181

cuba 175
And of course the propaganda. I used to know what they all said but I've since forgotten.
I know the one on the bottom is about these 5 guys that Castro says we kidnapped. The rest I
can sum up for you like this: Cuba=Good, USA=Bad, Socialism/Communism=Good, Capitalism=Bad. All the billboards there are used for propaganda. I didn't see one billboard used
for advertising.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

January- State of the Garden

It was a nice run, but my fall tomatoes finally said goodbye. Low's in the 20's and 30's with high's in the mid-50's did them in. Don't feel too bad for us, it's mid-January and we're stocked with tomatoes! The cool thing is I'll be starting my spring tomatoes inside in about 2 weeks! Sweet! These pictures above show my tomatoes last week, and............gone this week.

Celery & Brussels spout. Not only have I never grown these veggies before, I've never even seen them grown before! Actually I've never seen most of the veggies I'm growing grown before.......thanks to the modern day grocery store! (speaking of modern day grocery you remember back in the 70's & 80's, before scanners, when the cashiers memorized all the prices and typed them into a cash register? lol!) So I don't always know how the plants are doing since I don't really know what they look like when they grow. The down side of being a green horn! I do believe both of these plants have suffered from a lack of sun.

I can grow a mean crop of green manure though!

The last of the fall garden- 4 cabbage left and a raised bed of onions. The family didn't dig the cabbage as much as I expected. I think these cabbage have been growing for about 5 months (including inside under the lights)! I'm looking forward to them getting out of the way.

The onions on the other hand, we can't wait. Again I've never grown onions before and I'm hoping they got enough sun.

The new guys to the garden, potatoes, beets and some radish. Just planted these around Christmas. Hate to be a broken record but............never grown these either! I'm kinda excited for some potatoes.

My first compost bin. I'm such an enviromentalist!

And finaly a quick crop of 40 broccoli pants on the way. I'm going to plant them where the tomatoes were.

They need to grow quick......I want to plant my spring garden the 1st week of March!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Is the Tomato your Uncle? Re-post.

As a Gardener I can't get my head around how awesome the seed is. Is there anybody out there who can make a seed from scratch? I mean it's just a piece of wood. Anybody? I didn't think so. Do you ever wonder where the seed came from? I have, and I've checked around to get different opinions and I discovered, well.....weird I guess. I discovered the Theory of Evolution teaches that not only do all animals & humans share one ancestor, but all plants as well! I know that if you ask people what evolution means you'd get a wide variety of answers. Some people think that if a bird starts growing a longer beak to snatch worms from deep holes that that is Evolution. Actually that's not Evolution, that's natural selection. The bottom line on the Theory of Evolution is that you and me share one ancestor with every living thing on earth. Including plants. To me......that's crazy ridiculous. Dumb even. I wonder how many people know that the real definition of evolution means that YOU evolved from the same ancestor as the tomato? That means you're related to that Black Krim you love so much! lolol! Cannibal!
Check it out:. "All plants and animals share common ancestors with other plants and animals." - Richard Dawkins website. Or:
What do you think?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Winter Garden

The Garden. My peaceful zone. I only started gardening about 10 months ago with my first spring/summer planting. What a blast! I've learned quite a bit since then, most of it by trial and error (and the internet!). I started out with just four 10' x 5' raised beds in the spring, and as you can see now, I'm up to twelve 10' x 5' beds, two 5' x 5' beds and 60 feet of 1' wide bed along my fence line.

The great thing about Florida is that you can grow something in your garden basically all year. Actually, the hardest time of the year to grow veggies is in July/August. It gets really hot & wet, diseases flurish and I know you've heard about our bugs! So what you're looking at is my winter garden. It's in a little bit of a transitional stage. It's getting cold now (highs in the high 50's/low 60's, lows in the high 20's/low 30's) and my tomatoes are done. Which is fine by me because I want to squeeze in some broccoli before my spring planting. I've got some onions going now as well as garlic, celery, cabbage, lettuce, beets, radish, carrots, potatoes, strawberries and a few brussels sprout. I also have some green manure going for my spring garden.

One problem I have is.........trees. I love trees but they mess with my garden. My property runs East to West so as winter approaches the Sun starts to fade towards the equator and fall behind some of my trees. I've cut about 10 trees down so far, but I still have shade. The good news is that after December 21st the sun's been coming back my way, so it's just a matter of time before I have full sun again. Next year I'll start my Fall garden in mid-August instead of mid-Sept. and that should help.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Winter Tomatoes

Yes, tomatoes in January. I know, you're jealous. That's life in Florida. I started these tomatoes in September and have been harvesting them since Mid-December. I've got some Black Krim in there as well as Cherokee Purple, Orange-Strawberry, Aunt Ruby's Green and I think an Early Girl or two. Low's in the 20's this week so it's all coming to an end.