Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Firsts of The Season - A September Recap

Our daytime temperatures are in the middle 80F and it's cooling off at night at a balmy 75F so consequently the growth in the veggie garden has really accelerated. The abundant, daily rainfall is kind of helpful too.
As a 'recap' to my previous post,

To View Go here: Firsts of The Season - A September Preview

today.... I am showing a progress report on what is shaping up to be a bumper crop this year aka 'a whole of digging going on.'

First up Tomatoes:
Sweet 'n' Neat Hybrid Tomato (Determinate) has lots of little blossoms and vigorous, healthy growth. This little tomato can be grown on a patio in a 10" pot, but I transplanted mine in in a 3 gallon pot for optimum root development.

Sweet n Neat
Early Girl 50 Days
The Early Girl - 50 days - Hybrid (Indeterminate), has grown another 6" since my "September Preview" post and, true to its name, has little tomatoes developing, which I anticipate harvesting maybe last week of October.

Tip Time: I want to pass along two tips that I think have contributed to the rapid and vigorous growth of the above two plants. I dig in used coffee grounds around the plant and have watered the whole plant (leaves and all) with a diluted solution of Epsom salts. Bonemeal incorporated into the soil at planting will result in good yields.

Heatwave II and Brandywine
I planted Cherokee, Heatwave II and Brandywine tomato seeds on 9-13 and they are already up, although are a teeny bit spindly, so I will have to remember to brush my hand over the seedlings to strengthen them. I have also taken to sprinkling a little cinnamon powder over the tiny seedling to prevent damping off. Evidently Chamomile tea is also a preventative for this fungal soil disease. More information regarding this can be found by clicking here: Damping Off Problems

I didn't have a great deal of luck with the Cherokee last year, but I'm game for another try. I will not be growing either Roma or Solar Fire this year. Heatwave II and Brandywine are new and exciting additions to our garden. We also have my favorite Lemon Boy coming along nicely.

Eggplant: A pretty flower of two weeks ago has developed into fruit.
Ichiban Eggplant

This hybrid variety is a prolific producer. The skin is quite thin and the flesh is sweet and delicious.

I'm not sure why the lizard decided to pose on it.

You can buy transplants now at any big box outlet and plant them for a reliable crop within 2 - 3 weeks.

Burpless Cuke with Radish Seedlings

On the left we have Burpless Cuke with seedlings of Radish - Cherry Belle -surrounding it. The Radishes have a two-fold promise, they should be ready in 22 days and are reported to keep the dreaded cuke beetle off...


The Calabaza I mentioned in my previous post was a mere 5" back then and draped all over the bottlebrush. Now we need two hands to hold it and it's evident by the 12" ruler how fast these grow. I did removed the vines since the dinner plate size leaves were filtering the sunlight much needed for the tomatoes.

Our raised veggie bed installed last month now has transplants of Broccoli and Blue Lake Beans. The Ichiban Eggplant also shares the space. I have Nasturtiums planted in there because they look lovely in the vegetable garden.

Here's a photo of the raised veggie bed - before and after.

For planting times of some popular Florida vegetables visit my post: Ready Pot Grow....

In Zone 10, you can get going now seedlings of all Peppers, Broccoli, Radish, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Corn, and Eggplants. 

Probably better to wait on sowing cooler vegetables like Spinach, Lettuces, Peas, Celery and Arugula until last week in October.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Watching You Watch Me.......

Juvenile American Alligator
I've Been Spotted

This Is As Close As I Wanted to Be - In Case His Mama Was Close-by!

I think the old Peter Pan song goes, Never Smile At A Crocodile, or in my case 
Never Bait-A Gater!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Reflections on Water

Take a lovely day, a camera in hand, and a long walk.....

If it were not for the water lilies, it might be tricky to see where the trees end, and the reflection begins....

The trees actually standing in the water are Cypress, who are probably very happy now that with all the rainfall and Tropical Storm Isaac, their shallow, wetland environment has been restored to its watery self.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Firsts of The Season - A September Preview

My Florida Gardening Season is now underway and I wanted to highlight some of my ‘firsts’ of the season.

Left: Seedlings of Lemon Boy tomato (seed planted 8-20), and Ichiban Eggplant (seed planted 8-3). Both from seeds I harvested myself.

Left - Sweet 'n' Neat tomato that I bought a month ago as a transplant now has some little buds on it. It's a Determinate variety and will grow in a 10" pot, so ideal for a patio veggie garden. 

The Early Girl is flowering (right). This tomato is really thriving at almost 14” taller than when I bought the transplant. Early Girl is an Indeterminate variety and we should have some yummy tomatoes before Thanksgiving.

The Ichiban eggplant has one pretty, little flower.

The Sweet Bell Pepper below is showing signs of vigorous growth. I can almost taste that salsa I'll be making soon.

Now the temperatures are around 75F at night, I have also planted seeds of broccoli (Packman), and also some Oak Leaf lettuce - both from self harvested seeds.
In addition I have Cherokee, Brandywine and Heatwave II tomato seeds waiting to germinate. I bought the Heatwave II from Reimers.
View my previous blog for seed sources - link below.

Ready, Pot, Grow......

But my piece de resistance is the abundance of little Calabaza squashes (below) that are draped all over the bottlebrush. They are about 5” long.

This very hot pepper plant (read scorching hot) has revived itself. The label at Home Depot reads Jalapeno, but I don’t think so. I believe they are Tabasco. We can’t eat them anyway, but a certain type of bird visiting in the summer (now since migrated) just couldn’t get enough of them. I really don’t know what to do with them, but they remind me of little Christmas lights on the tree for some reason.

Have you started your Florida Vegetable Garden yet?  What "firsts" do you have  going growing on in your garden?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Taming The Swamp - Again

Were it not for the constant efforts of people weedwacking, mowing or shearing their yards, Mother Nature and her consort Father Time would no doubt re-install the dense vegetation and swamp that once covered most of Southeast Florida. 

Indeed, it would seem that just recently they made a hostile take-over bid for my yard........

Tropical Storm Isaac Flooding - looking toward street from driveway
Let's Play "Pin the Tail Light On Where The Street Used to Be?"
Another View Of The Street
One Soggy Yard
Isaac was only a Tropical Storm when he huffed and puffed his way through here, and thank goodness we have well maintained canals and swales to take the deluge of water away from our yards and homesites. In addition, the numerous, mature pine trees that populate our yards certainly take up most of the ground water within a day or two.

Looking south on Pathway
The yard got blown about a bit though. The Sky Vine felt very sorry for itself after the gusting winds and drooped sadly to the ground thereby blocking our patio doorway, and the pathway on the left.

During the last few weeks of intense rain, combined with temperatures in the high 90s, the foliage simply exploded with growth.

And so, despite the heat, the bugs and the afternoon thunderstorms, I headed out there for some badly needed yard maintenance.

Before - Looking South. Vine Cut Back.
Photo on right taken at 11am. Photo below 3pm.
Landscape fabric installed. Mulch will follow.

Afterwards - Looking South at 3pm

Below left: 11am from opposite direction. What a jungle! I joked with my son that if the yard got any wilder I'd need a guide, a canoe, and a rifle to venture out there! Below right: 3pm. Bird bath resited.

Before - Looking North, same pathway

 Afterwards - Looking North - 3pm

Below a close-up of the bird bath, which sits in a pot with a "running" bamboo. The photo on the right shows the base of the pot sitting on a large concrete stone. If it were not contained in this way, the running bamboo would take off across my yard, dashing hither and thither via its running (invasive) rhizome root system and pretty soon they'd be nothing in the yard except the bamboo (and the neighbors would just love me). 

The horse's head is a remnant of a once great lamp base. I really enjoy this recycled "art" in my garden.

Below a little tree frog took shelter from the gales under the folded patio umbrella, along with its whole family it seemed.

And, as if I didn't have enough raucous frog chorus in the flooded yard, the little guy below decided to sit right outside our bedroom and serenade us.....all night.

And I could really do without a skink in the bathtub thank you very much...

Below - a Southeastern Five-Lined Skink.

Naturally, the abundance of frogs and toads, leaping around in the flooded yard captured the attention of another visitor....a very large Hawk.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Honey.... I Shrank The Sea-Garden!

I don't really have a Sea-Garden, and there are plenty of very talented gardener-bloggers that create (terra firma) "fairy" gardens, and miniature gardens that, replete with tiny paving stones, teeny benches and arbors, are gorgeous to behold.

We live reasonably close to the Atlantic on the Florida Seaboard, and I thought, how much fun it would be to create a little "sea garden" that reminds us of the ocean.

First of all I had to find a suitable number of small containers in which to create my miniaturized sea-gardens. Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows what a cheapskate I am, and so my choice of containers have to range from a $1 to about $4, and the whole creation preferably should be between $10 to $15.

A visit to a couple of goodwill / donation centers yielded up the following candidates:

The 'holiday' ceramic planter on the left was $4. I don't mind that it's a seasonally colored item, because I like the fern-like pattern on the sides, I think it will make a great water-top garden, which I am saving for a future blog. The real brass container was $1.99, and needs to be buffed up a bit, this is going to be a tiny succulent sea-garden.  I also picked up a shallow glass bowl for 99c (not shown here, but at the bottom of page).

I filled them both up with water to make sure they are not going to leave a water stain on my thift store antique furniture.

The brass container came up wonderfully with a bit of Brasso and I can now see it also has a foliage pattern engraving, (the pinkish hue is a reflection from my phone case).
In the brass container, I lined the bottom with broken pot pieces to provide drainage. Then I filled container up with potting soil, to about the top of rim, placed plants in and watered again lightly to reduce air. This compacted the potting soil and left me about 1/4 inch from soil to rim of pot. Then I just covered the top of the potting soil with blue aquarium gravel (Wal Mart < $4). This is one of the succulents I picked up from Home Depot. Note the interesting 'teeth' on the plant. This is not a carnivorous plant, although my eldest son tells me that all plants are slightly carnivorous - especially those with spikes, or hair (like tomatoes) on their stems or leaves.

I added a few accessories to give the impression it was on the ocean floor, tiny half buried pot and a little turtle. The larger succulent gives the impression of kelp maybe.

Here's the sea-garden planted in the glass container bought for 99c. I bought the succulents for less than $9, used the Wal-Mart aquarium gravel less than $4 (used in both projects and half a bag left). I had to ahem "borrow" some of my husband's shell collection pieces as whimsy, and there's a piece of coral tucked in (left). The stacked rocks were just collected from the shore-line the other day. The blue stone, right with shell on it, is from Bali. The photo doesn't do it credit as to how pretty it really is. The blue gravel on green really pops doesn't it?

The glass bowl sea-garden was 99c bowl, 1/4 bag rocks $1, plants $9, I already had the potting soil, the rocks, shells and $11.
The brass container $1.99, 1/4 bag rocks $1, plants $6, ditto for "bling" .. so $9.

Ahhhh.....I can almost feel the sea breezes.

Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend. 
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