Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Under Pressure

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Have you been there? You need to get planting........the season is NOW! You've got a window of a few weeks to get it done so, of course, you lounge around the first week......."I'll do some planting during the week after work, and finish it up next weekend" goes the usual logic.

Then the weekend comes and you forgot you promised a friend you'd attend their wedding. Bummer. Church on Sunday and another weekend is gone.

"I'll do some planting during the week after work, and finish it up next weekend".........again.

Then it rains all weekend. Bummer.

"I'll do some planting during the week after work, and finish it up next weekend"........It has to happen!

Then your Mother/Brother/Sister/Wife/Son/Uncle needs you to (fill in the blank) and thinks it's ridiculous that you'd say no so you can take care of your stupid garden! The pressure builds...........Sorry, but it's now or never Mom!

That's how I've felt the last couple weeks as I've gone from being ahead of schedule in the garden, to barley hanging on as October approaches fast. But I did get some work done during those weeks after work. Check it out............

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As the gardens up north start to wind down, the Florida autumn garden is just getting busy. Like these beans...........just ate the first one this morning! Delicious.

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68 tomato plants......and they were definitely started on time. I'm continuing to use rebar stakes for my tomatoes, as they worked great during the spring. I buy a 20' piece of 3/8" rebar and cut it in half. I push the rebar in the ground about 2-3 feet deep, by hand, right behind the plant. As the tomato plant gets bigger I just tie it to the rebar. What's nice is the rebar is strong enough & long enough to support the plant without bending, yet light enough to move around to other beds when needed. A great way to pack 17 plants in a 10' x 5' bed.

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Cukes.......my first time using a net trellis.

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A full bed of onions. A lot of people are surprised that onions grow in Florida, but they actually do quite well during the cool months. You just have to make sure you use "short day" seeds. Because they take a long time to grow (some varieties take 160 days.......51/2 months!), the bed I grew them last year got covered by shade as the winter progressed. So this year I moved them to a bed that gets full sun all through winter. I'm looking to harvest about 200 onions in this 5' x 10' bed. They store.........so I grow.

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Hot & Sweet peppers (up top), Tomatillo (bottom left) & Okra (bottom right). All grown in the same bed. I've never grown Okra or Tomatillos before........I hope there's enough hot weather left for them. It's possible it might get a little cool for them by the end of next month. We'll see.

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It's Florida......you've got to grow some citrus. My first citrus tree.........kumquat. I love kumquats!

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On the left is some squash I think I planted too late.......and on the right some peas that I'm growing for the first time.

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Notice the rolled leaf........middle-right?

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Well, this is the rascal that wraps itself in the leaf...................

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...............and this is the proper pest control technique for the situation. I bet I've squished 75 of these guys over the last couple weeks.

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I've still got 4 beds to plant yet...........for the real cool weather crops. Broccoli, Brussels, Lettuce, Beets, Radish, Celery, Cabbage and some others I'm sure I've forgotten. I have been asked about the mulch I use in the beds. I use straw that I buy from a local farm supply company for about $10 a bale. It definitely keeps the weeds down and helps keep the soil from fluctuating wildly from wet to dry all the time. Don't use hay! All it takes is one time and you'll know why............it'll start to grow!

That brings me up to date. Now to get after those cool weather crops...................I've got to get them in this weekend.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Two Quotes Of The Week!

1. "Daddy, do you grow cheese in your garden too?" - A certain relative of mine who will remain anonymous.......for obvious reasons. lololololol!

2."A fall Florida garden is just like a summer New England garden" - Mrs. Conservative Gardener, while discussing which was best....a Florida summer garden or a Florida autumn garden. I choose the autumn one.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Southern Garlic.

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I love it when garden paraphernalia comes in the mail. It's better than Christmas! The latest goodies to show up at my doorstop was this shipment of garlic from Gourmet Garlic Gardens. Because I garden in the warmth of the Deep South, I've been let down by garlic. It can be difficult to grow here since we don't have a "real" winter to put a freeze on it. So in my search for some garlic to grow in Florida I came across this company out of Texas, that not only sells garlic that grows in the south, but gives you direction on how to have the most success in our warm climate. If you're a southern gardener, you know that it can be hard to find supplies & directions for growing things here. It seems like the best seed companies are from up north and they tend to cater to people like themselves.....northerners! Which is fine.....because they still sell fine products that I can use, but............sometimes I need a company who caters to southern growers. So even though I haven't grown the garlic yet, I'm really pleased with my buying experience from GGG so far. Their web site is real informative (they're based out of Texas), my garlic was shipped very nicely, as you can see, and very timely as well. You can tell they have a passion for growing garlic, which helps me out in a poor garlic growing environment.

I just thought it might help some other gardeners who struggle with growing garlic to give this company a plug. Here's some other companies I buy from that I've had a lot of success with:

1. Johnny's Selected Seed.......the best overall seed company I've dealt with. Seeds are of very high quality. Based out of Maine.....(of course!)

2. Totally Tomatoes..........I love tomatoes, and I need a lot to keep my vegetarian wife happy. I love the variety that TT has, and I like how their web site has one big page with pics & descriptions of their tomatoes. Their seeds come neat, on time and as described. Some people might not like that they're owned by a big corporation......but I just like using them. Out of Wisconsin I believe.

3. Park Seed Co. ........... I like Park's because they're based out of the south, so they tend to have more things for southern gardeners. I like their planting blocks & bio-sponges as well. Out of S. Carolina.

4. Irish Eyes .............. For potatoes! I just ordered my potatoes a few weeks ago......they should arrive around mid-November. I've only ordered from them once before, but it's kind of hard to order potatoes for the south! As most of you know, seed companies only ship potato seeds at certain times of the year............ and the south's growing season starts in Dec/Jan, not April/May. Irish Eyes has been the easiest for me so far. From the state of Washington.

If you have any favorites that you use.....feel free to share!