Sunday, October 28, 2012

October Yields - A Veggie Preview

Hello South Florida!! Finally cooler days! Two weeks ago it was 88-90 F during the day, and now we are looking happily at anywhere from 73-81 F - Makes all the difference to getting out there and getting grubby  - but not too sweaty - in the garden. It's worth mentioning that in my gardening journal last year I was noting by October 3rd, low 80sF during the day at low 70sF at night.

The Bell Peppers are thriving with lots of buds and maturing peppers. I have both in large pots, and they've had several good waterings with very diluted epsom salts and a few big dollops of fish emulsion. Peppers were bought as transplants a month or so ago from a nursery and they are already producing, so I'm very happy about that. 

Whitefly infestation was prevalent for a while, but I prevailed with daily brushing the affected leaves with Diatomaceous earth powder.

We now have three raised vegetable beds installed. The first has Broccoli (front of box), Blue Lake Pole Beans (middle netting trellis) and Eggplants (back of box supported with tomato cages). There are some Marigolds (tagetes) in there, the flowers of which I feed to my conures. All thriving with all the rainfall we've been getting. The Broccoli I am anticipating harvesting for Thanksgiving Dinner.

I have yet to decide what to put in the empty box since it's still cooking. I lined the bottom with a thick covering of cardboard boxes and newspapers, then topped it off with garden soil, bonemeal, home-made compost etc. I sprinkled about 2lbs of regular white sugar in with that mix, because apparently sugar kills nematodes. The third box is on the right out of view finder range. It's loaded with different varieties of tomatoes. Cherokee, Brandywine, Heatwave and Lemon Boy. (Heatwave not doing well).

Ichiban Eggplant with Blue Lake Pole Beans
Blue Lake Pole Beans

We're harvesting the runners and eggplants. My bean yield isn't tremendous, but then only my husband and I eat them. I top and tail the beans, cut them in half and lightly boil them, they have a nice flavor with a little crunch to them. I yield about 4-5 a day.

Here's something to watch out for. I noticed that the flower production on the Eggplant had stopped, and whole lotta chewing was going on. The chewing may be flea beetles, or lubber grasshoppers and the bud drop due to lack of water. A closer examination of the leaves showed they had been folded over. Opening the leaf revealed what I think is a baby hornworm. I picked the folded leaves off and put them in the bird feeder. Other gardeners suggest using reflective mulch under eggplants to deter flea beetles. I used some old CD's instead, and I bet you could use aluminum foil too.

While I was trawling the web for insect identification I came across this great website.
Click here:
A Great Website with tips for Growing Eggplant

Disappointingly the Early Girl tomato I was so enthralled with, only produced one little wormy tomato and then the whole plant wilted and died. An examination of the roots showed no nematode damage. Maybe it was still too hot out. I'll give this variety of tomato one more shot, before I write it off -- after all -- ripe tomatoes in November would be nice to have.

Cuke flowers
The Burpless Cuke on the left (big leaves) shares a pot with Cherry Belle Radishes. The Cuke is now about 3 feet high and already producing fruit. Someone recommended putting onions skin in the pot to deter Cuke borers. I have done this and can report that - so far, so good.

Don't skimp on the water with Cukes, they go downhill very quickly if the soil isn't kept moist. I should be able to harvest the Cherry Belle radishes soon.

In the meantime I'll just enjoy the Monarch butterflies that, along with the Giant Swallowtails, have returned en-masse, looking no doubt for the butterfly garden I have so carelessly neglected over our hot, humid and weedy summer.


  1. Your garden is looking great. I've had some of those leaf curlers, too and have been battling worms. Just now getting them under control. Don't give up on the Early Girl yet. I planted 2 and one is loaded with tomatoes...way ahead of all the other tomato plants. Maybe you had a diseased plant. Thanks for the suggestion on feeding peppers with epsom salts. I'll get right on it! :)

    1. Susan thanks for your comment! Wow I'm so jealous your Early Girls are loaded with tomatoes....I'm going to give that variety another try. The expectation of having ripe tomatoes before December is too tempting to pass up on :)

  2. Ditto here about the epsom salts! My peppers are doing "OK" - but the fruit is much smaller this year. And my tomatoes . . . well, that's a sad story. I failed at the first set of seedlings and it looks like my second set is a flop too. However, I've managed to grow some huge (12+ inches) cucumbers! LOL - every season my veggie garden is a live and learn type lesson. I'm pretty "learned" and yet I still struggle. :-)

    Great post. Eager to see what you chose for the second bed . . . .


    1. Hello eli - if your peppers are from seeds you cultivated from last season's fruits, that might be the problem right there. I too have had some failed tomato seedlings, two things might be going on there (and I need to take my own advice here LOL). First might be dampening off - a fungal disease in the soil, corrected by a nice sloshing of chamomile tea or powdered cinnamon, and the second is to add a whole TUMS tablet (yup the anti-acid remedy) to each pot, or grind/smash it up and sprinkle it on everything you are growing. The TUMS solution comes from "Cash Cashion" who writes a column in the Sunday Palm Beach Post.

    2. Dawn - you are right. . . my pepper plants are from seeds cultivated from last spring's fruit. Lesson learned! I've printed your tomato advice for future reference. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Beautiful photos. Monarchs and swallowtails came back here, but I had neglected the butterfly garden over the summer as well. Hoping to do better next year!


Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my blog and leave a message. Happy Gardening!

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