Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Summer Veggie Garden Rests - A Summary

I was pleasantly surprised this year by the amount of produce the garden yielded. Between whitefly infestations, aphids, powdery mildew, ants in my pots, munching lubbers and hornworms, squash borers, flea beetles, and sparse rainfalll, 2012 was a winner...No really it was!
The above picture is an example of a twice a week picking (March through June.) Just double the tomato and broccoli count.

As a general guide for other Zone 10 South Florida gardeners, my garden harvests were ready to pick as follows:

Nov - May      Broccoli (Packman)
Dec - June     Ichiban Eggplant, Sweet 100 Hybrid Cherry, 
                   and Lemon Boy Tomats
Jan - May      Bush Beans, Cherokee Tomats, Roma (Juliet) Tomats,
                   Big Beef Tomats, Black Beauty and Hansel Eggplant
                   varieties, Red Leaf Lettuce, Oakleaf Lettuce, Arugula,
                   & Bok Choi
March           Cauliflower              
April - June    Radish (Riviera)
June - Aug     Finally the onions I planted back December ripened.

What didn't do well at all this year: Spinach, Zucchinis, Carrots, Squash, Solar Fire (variety Heirloom) Tomat, and Cucumber. The Artichoke failed completely - although, while it lasted, it made an attractive accent to the garden with its spreading, silvery gray and feathery foliage. I think I'll just consider it an ornamental next season.

Eggplant: This was my first year growing eggplants. I tried 3 varieties: Ichiban, Black Beauty and Hansel. Next season I will just grow Ichiban and Black Beauty.
Six things come to mind immediately.
Black Beauty
 1) They need a really big pot 2) Lots of regular feeding with fish emulsion 3) Plenty of water 4) A large tomato cage right from the start, cos they grow BIG, and the vines with fruit on are heavy, and need to be supported 5) Watch for whitefly infestations 6) Have plenty of friends and family that love eggplant because you will probably not be able to eat them all!

Millet: We have three birds, two Maroon-bellied Conures and a Lovebird. So May and June I grew our own millet. Take store bought millet and sprinkle seeds in the ground/pot and watch those grasses pop up. They didn't grow as large as store bought millet, but the birds loved them, even in their slightly green stage. But then my birds love everything, including, but not limited to: shredded cheese, sea grapes, apples, strawberries, scrambled egg (with cumin), cheerios, bacon, marigolds, hibiscus, coriander seeds, peanuts, yoghurt, pizza crust, and sips of orange juice...whew!

Tomatoes: I tried four different varieties of tomato this year. In addition to my prolific producers Lemon Boy, and Roma Juliet, I added:
Sweet 100 Cherry -----  fruits are so sweet and juicy and makes for great snacking while working in the garden. No problems with this tomato. I grew it in a pot and it was fine.
Big Beef -------- great tasting tomatoes, deep red, very juicy - watch for hornworms early, it was nearly wiped out by them and took a month to come back. Fruit is a little slow to set but worth it. I'll just plant two or three next time. I also grew this one in a pot and was very pleased with yield.
Cherokee ------ an Heirloom, yet not a producer in my garden, although the flavor is amazing, so I'll persevere. Grown in the ground with plenty of compost, feeding and mulch.
Solar Fire ----- an Heirloom and supposed to be well suited to warmer climates. We had maybe 3 little tomatoes and it faded away. Grown in the ground, as above.
Next season I will be dropping Solar Fire and Roma Juliet and growing Brandywine (Heirloom) Yellow and Red varieties and Heatwave II.

Peppers: In previous years we had bumper crops of Sweet Bell and Banana type peppers, not so this year. My consolation prize was that we had hundreds of Jalapenos, but they were so darn hot, we couldn't eat them. Luckily they did not go to waste. A unknown, migratory bird of a gray and black coloring, with a creaky-door sound as bird song goes, came to the garden every day and picked them off, one by one.

Broccoli: We had a seemingly never-ending crop of Packman broccoli from November onwards. Cut and come again with those little side shoots, divine in stir fries or omelets. My son would walk around the garden, snap off those little side shoots and eat them raw. See below for his cheeky face.
"Guilty, as charged!"
This year I am going to try another couple of Florida recommended types: Waltham 29 (large heads up to 8" across and good for freezing), and DeCicco,(whose leaves are edible like collards), maybe Calabrese too. Yep, we eat a lot of broccoli.

Onions: The onions that I planted in December 2011 were very slow to develop. I need to be more patient and give them time. I have been pulling them up in their scallion phase and chopping up for stir fries. We have a bumper crop though. Well worth the wait. Some sources online suggest pulling the earth away from the emerging bulb.

We are also growing Peanuts this year, although the pesky squirrels think they belong to them.

The Calabaza pumpkin has taken off again, although I must confess it's a bit of a nuisance and is trying to smother the Bottlebrush. The leaves are at least 5 - 8" across. I think it's very tasty, but the boys don't care for it at all.

The Mammoth Dill is still growing and attracting the black swallowtail, also I have Red Leaf Lettuce still thriving (who knew), along with Culantro, and hoards of Mint, Basil and Rosemary. The Marigold reseeded themselves, as did the Pineapple Sage.

I'm getting the soil ready and purchasing supplies and seeds for the upcoming Florida Veggie Season. I will be installing some raised beds this year, and of course my broccoli-eatin' son will be assisting me with that project.. yes you are!

Next Up: What I'm Planting in My Zone 10a Garden this August and Sept.


  1. Looks like your veggie garden was very successful. That's not easy to do through a Florida summer. Kudos to you. I've got to try growing onions and peanuts. Never tried either but I see you and others are having good success. Good luck with your fall garden.

  2. what a bounty, i grew the cherokee tomato this year also, not a prolific producer but very good on sandwiches. Give the green jade a try, animals don't touch it because it's fruit remains green, but very juicy and sweet. I too am waiting for the fall planting season. The leaves on the broccoli decicci is tender like spinach. Have a good one.


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