Friday, August 28, 2009

It's On!

aa 933
aa 939
The first 34 tomatoes are in the ground.....with 34 to go. If looking at my garden map from my previous post, I planted 17 tomato plants each in boxes #14 & #6. Here's my varieties for this years fall garden:

1. Red Brandywine (Totally Tomatoes) - The classic.
2. Cuostralee (Johnny's) - Red, French heirloom........first time for me.
3. Red Pear (Johnny's) - Pear shaped, red with green shoulders, look cool....again, 1st time.
4. Bolseno (Johnny's) - Red with green shoulders.....hybrid, first time.
5. Rose (Johnny's) - Deep pink, heirloom........first time in my garden.
6. Black Krim (Totally T.) - Black, a constant in my wife's favorite.
7. Black (Totally T.) -! 2nd time in the garden.
8. Big Beef (Johnny's) - Red, large, hybrid......1st time.
9. Japanese Black (Johnny's) - Burgundy/green shoulders, pear shaped....very cool, 1st time.
10. Cherokee Purple (Totally T.) - Brown? Black? Purple? Always in the garden!
11. Sweet Olive (Johnny's) - Red cherry.......1st time.
12. San Marzano (Johnny's) - Red cherry/plum/grape. Hybrid......1st time.
13. Yellow Brandywine (RH Shumway's) - Yellow.........2nd time in the garden.
14. Chocolate Cherry (Totally T.) - Black cherry tomato. Wife loves them......2nd time.
15. Black Sea Man (Totally T.) - Black determinate. Always in the garden.
16. Velvet Red (Totally T.) - Red fuzzy cherry. Another wife favorite......2nd time.
17. Aunt Ruby's German Green (Totally) - Green.....almost can't tell when ripe! lol. 2nd time.
18. Dixie Golden Giant (Totally T.) - Yellow, big........2nd time.
19. Tomatillo (Ferry-Morse) - Does this count?

Wow, did I really plant that many varieties? I might've got carried away! I love trying different kinds.....although yellow tomatoes aren't my favorite. I like them in some recipes to add color, but they generally don't have the flavor as the others. You probably noticed we like the black tomatoes.......yes, they're our favorites (especially my wife!) Funny.......2 years ago we didn't even know black tomatoes existed!

I planted between 4-6 seeds of each variety, and I won't know exactly how many of each kind will make it into the garden for a couple of weeks.........You never know if the dog will eat a couple as they harden off, or if I won't drop a hammer on one or two, maybe a cut worm will take a liking to a couple of them. So I plant about 85 plants to get 68 (17 X 4 beds) growing in the garden. Hopefully I won't need all the extras and I can give some away.

Oh yeah, as a side note......I also planted some beans & peas:
aa 944 aa 942
aa 941

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fall Garden Prep II.........

My Fall garden planting is getting ready to be in full swing. I like to plant my tomatoes first because they are the most sensitive to the cold, so I want to get them started as early as possible. Last year in North Central Florida we had temps close to freezing around October 27th (it's a global warming problem)! So I started about 15 varieties of tomatoes inside around July 28th, and they're now ready to be planted outside. I've since started some eggplant & peppers, as they're also warm weather veggies. Here's a map of my garden and where I plan to plant with a picture from the roof to compare:

aa 948
aaGarden 271

I number each raised bed so I can keep track of where I plant each season. Here's my notes from this past summer season:
aa 951

As you can see, the page that's above left I have box #5 where I planted 4 varieties of beans on April 2, 2009. On the above right page I've listed 2 raised beds, #8 & #4, which I used to plant tomatoes on 3/27/09 and 4/1/09. I use abbreviations as a shortcut but I usually list all names with abbreviations on another page so I can check their names in case I forget. A few on this page: BSM= Black Sea Man , BK= Black Krim, Isis= Isis Candy (cherry tomato), EG= Early Girl, etc. My wife calls this Man Organizing. Simple and to the point. I know what, where, when and which direction (the word house tells me which way the box faces) as well as a documented history to help me plant the next season.

So now I'm on the doorstep of the 2009 Fall garden. My tomatoes are going in the ground while it's still warm and my cold veggies will be coming soon. The above map shows my ideas on what and where I'm going to plant with considerations to a few things. One is rotation. I always rotate, but it can be a challenge because I plant so many Nightshade veggies. The other issue is shade. Looking at the map, box #11 is north, #13 is west, #3 east and #8 south. During the summer the north end gets shady as the season nears mid-June. During the fall the south end gets shady as we near mid-December. If you look at the overhead picture above, which was taken mid-winter, you'll notice the south-east corner has no plants, but the north side has a bunch. So I try to plan accordingly.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fall Garden Prep 1

So, as you can see in yesterday's post, the garden's a bit of a mess......but we've been working to get it ready for the Fall growing season. Here's some pics so you can see how's its coming along:

aa 872
The first thing I do when getting ready for the fall garden is to plant my tomatoes. Even though Florida has a warm Autumn, it can get chilly in October. Last year on October 29th it got as low as 32 degrees in Ocala. So you must start your tomatoes as early as possible. I start them indoors in August for the opposite reason Northerners start there's indoors in March.....because it's still too hot.

You'll notice that I like to use Park Seeds styrofoam seed starter (with the bio-sponges which are about 7 cents a piece). I love the accuracy, speed, organization and the strength of the plants when I use it. I label each styrofoam tray (I have about 8) with a letter. If you look on the notebook, this one is labeled "X". I wrote the letter "X" on the actual tray as well, so I know which way to read it & match it with my notebook. Now I can keep track of which varieties & how many are planted & where. If some don't pop up....I just re-plant in the same sponge.

aa 880
Here's an okra newbie with some great looking root growth all through the bio-sponge. The sponges are made of some kind of sterile medium. Because you only pour water into the tray and not on the plant, it causes the roots to grow down & strong.

aa 908
aa 903
I then transplant them into some peat pots with a mixture of peat moss & potting mix.

aa 913
And then it's under the lights until the end of the month. I'm looking to transplant them into the garden the 1st week of September.

You're looking at 54 tomatoes in peat pots on the bottom, 6 okra in peat pots on top left, about 24 assorted peppers still in the sponges top right, and about 12 tomatoes still in the sponges top right. With more on the way.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Florida Garden.....Summer Style!

The great thing about growing a garden in Florida is that you can grow veggies all year long........well, except for July & August. Oh sure, you can try, and you might find some success. But it won't be pretty. What I find interesting is the gardens above the Mason Dixon line.........they're thriving right now. Of course come October I'll be picking tomatoes and those gardens up north.............well, they'll probably still have some Kale in the ground. So for all you Northerners, this ones for you. My Florida Garden.......Summer Style!

aa 855 aa 861're looking at lots of weeds.

aa 859 aa 853
This is what your tomatoes would look like if you had 2" of rain everyday at 3PM, temperatures over 92 every day, and the hordes of bugs that those two ingredients bring.

aa 854
I am in the middle of getting my Fall garden ready. Here I'm getting my sweet corn spot ready. More pics to follow.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Little Catching Up.......

As I mentioned in my last post, we got bunches of rain this year in Florida. About 15" in one week alone. The rain wrecked havoc on my garden, but I was still able to harvest a bunch of veggies. Here's some pictures I took over the last 2 months while I was in and out from going to Honduras & Nicaragua:

A wet, wide look at the garden.....probably about a month & a half ago.
aa 807
aa 851

The tomatoes did well......but I bet I lost 40% due to the rain.
aa 716
aa 512aa 767
aa 794 aa 793

My first time growing corn...........and my first time dealing with Japanese Beetles! They feasted on my corn. I was only able to save a few ears.
aa 769
aa 770

Cukes. We have delicious pickles in the fridge right now.
aa 819 aa 841

Carrots.......... Crooked Neck, Magda & Sweet Lightning (bottom) Squash.
aa 546

Squash, Eggplant, Sweet Potato, Garlic & Beans. The Garlic didn't do to well, so this year I bought some from a place in Texas that sells Garlic that grows in warmer areas.
aa 837 aa 814

aa 816 aa 812
aa 811

And I'll end with a message for all bugs.................
aa 782
aa 788

Current garden pics coming next.