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.

48 comments:

  1. Girls huh?
    You know if you put off gardening in Florida, the weather will mess you up big time. We have lettuce, onions, radishes, greens, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and peas up! WHOO HOO! So far so good. Our summer garden when down the tank fast. Explain a short day onion....I may have goofed!!

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  2. Dennis,
    I KNOW exactly how you feel. We have been in and out of town so much and then the same scenario you describe. It's funny how people (non-gardeners) DO think it's stupid you'd have to actually take the time to garden and maybe say "no" to some other things to fit it in. :-)

    I am SO behind. You are further north than me and you are way ahead. Now I'm wondering if I plant anything except those really cool weather crops. My tomato seedlings are up in the 4" pots but not as big as yours. How could you have beans already? Oh, I am so behind.

    Tell me more about the rebar (I like the thought of it- so strong)... What do you do when the plants vine off and you only have one bar to tie to? I've been using 6' wooden stakes but the plants get too tall and branchy and then fall over and break.
    Meems

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  3. Darla- lol! Yes girls! I know my wife would be loving a care package like that sent to her......hey wait minute....maybe I should do it!

    Anyway, short day onions are onions that grow in the south. Short day onions bulb when the daylight hours are between 12-14 hours (perfect for our Fall garden). Up north they grow their onions in the summer and they use "long day" onions which bulb when the daylight hours are between 14-16 hours. There's also a mid-day onion, which is supposed to work anywhere. Usually varieties like Vidalia are short day......but there are others. Just make sure you read the package or web site when you buy onions and buy the "short day" ones.

    Miss Meems- I must admit that I also left out watching football as another excuse that keeps my out of the garden......I suck!

    If by "vine off" you mean letting the suckers grow.......I thought this might be a problem when I first started using them. But I just tied the extra shoots to the same rebar post. I usually prune my tomatoes to just 2 shoots anyway but on some cherry tomato plants I just let them go and I just tie each brach to the rebar. Works great! You can buy the rebar at Lowes and it's much cheaper than buying pre-made stakes or cages and they last a long time. I buy the 20' long ones and cut them in half because it's cheaper....but you can buy them in 10' lengths if you want. I used 6-8 foot bamboo stakes and the difference is great. By using 10' long rebar it allows you to sink them in the ground 2-3 feet and they still stick out of the ground 7-8 feet.....plenty because you can't reach much taller than that anyway. And they're strong....because they're in the ground 2-3 feet and because they're rebar.....way stronger than wood!

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  4. Thanks......yes, you should get a girlie package together for your wife!

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    What great reading _ I'm now following you!!

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    1. There's also a mid-day onion, which is supposed to work anywhere. Usually varieties like Vidalia are short day but there are others. Just make sure you read the package or web site when you buy onions and buy the "short day" ones.

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