Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Seaweed Fertilizer

Yesterday my local community group sent out an alert that massive piles of Sargassum seaweed (Sargassum spp.)  have washed ashore here on the East Coast of Florida.   My littlest gardener and I headed over to a beach side park in Ormond so she could play a little and we could collect some seaweed for the garden.

Coastal areas all over the world use seaweed that washes up onshore as sources of agricultural soil enrichment.  Many different species of seaweed can be used. Our most common here in Florida is Sargassum seaweed, which adds organic material to the soil and can be found year around.  It has been estimated that there are 10,000 square kilometers of seagrass in the Gulf of Mexico, and 85% of that is in the waters of Florida.1

Once harvested the seaweed can be used in a variety of ways, such as in compost, soil amendment, in place of peat moss, and as an organic mulch.  I have even read about some gardeners making composting tea out of it for liquid fertilization.  Some chop up their seaweed to make better use of it as well.

Seaweed must be washed to remove salt for most uses.  This was fun for my big gardener and I do when she came home from school.  We removed trash debris and sea pencils from the seaweed piles that I had collected. We washed most of it and put it in the compost bin that we will use in the spring.  Then we left some in the wheel barrow full of water to soak over night. We are going to wash it more thoroughly and apply it directly to the plants already growing in the garden.  

We then had to wash ourselves, it is stinky like fish! :) 

Happy Gardening!

1 – UF IFAS Extension – Solutions for your Life 2007-2011

October in the Garden

  

Since we last posted we have lots to report!  I’m so happy Fall gardening has finally started. I was so over the heat and bugs of the summer!  We added a tiny garden box for my littlest gardener. She is very excited for her own personal gardening space. ;)  We also had a school project that involved the classroom mascot doing a little gardening with us.

We have pulled up the sweet potatoes after having a second caterpillar attack. The vines had taken up more space that I wanted them to, so next year I will plant them in a different area. I was able to harvest a half-dozen sweet potatoes for dinner.

We had to start seeds twice this season, partly because I think I started them too early. The second round is going well! Here are pics of our Bibb lettuce, purple dragon carrots, and collard sprouts. Sprouts not shown: celery, green leaf lettuce, and orange carrots.

   

Our mystery plant turned out to be a pumpkin. Still not sure how it came to be, or what type of pumpkin it was!?!  The pumpkins were quickly attacked and eaten during our second caterpillar attack.  So I pulled up it, plus it was not planted in an area where it would have had enough room to grow. 

  

We do have Seminole pumpkins in our backyard, see below. They have recovered well from the caterpillar attacks and we are hoping for Thanksgiving pumpkins!

 

We do have TWO more mystery plants. I let the little gardeners plant wherever they pleased this season, but I didn’t take the time to label them.  The one below on the right is a seedling from some guerilla gardening seed balls, made by Wall Flower Studio.  I have a seed list of what it could be, but I still don’t have a clue at this stage. Current Guess: some kind of herb. My oldest gardener thinks she planted milkweed in the red pot below.  I do not.  Current Guess: ? It isn’t strawberries.

 

Some Gardening Troubles:

Our avocado plant is having problems.  I’m looking into brown spots and wilt. I’m thinking I should get it in a bigger pot or in the ground soon.

I have also lost some thyme that I purchased at the farmers market, and some potted parsley that got too dry! Here is a little ICU section of my garden. These are plants that I need to keep an extra eye on. ;)

Lastly, I am happy to report some garlic that has sprouted, almost forgotten from last season. It will be an additional bonus in this season’s harvest! Yum! :)

Happy Gardening!

Late August in the Garden

We are looking forward to cooler weather!!! We’ve had our fill of August & the heat!  Ugh!

Cymbopogon (lemongrass)

We may be tired of the heat but the grasses are loving it!!! I love cooking with fresh lemon grass in the late summer. When combined with garlic & other spices it is has some fabulous health benefits.

Caladiums are one of the easiest things to grow.  I love the color they give my flowerbeds, this time of year. Be careful though they are poisonous to pets.

   

We are already thinking about fall gardening!  From left to right: leeks, marigolds & celery sprouts will be transplanted into the garden beds soon!  Radishes & sweet potatoes are in the ground already!  By October we are hoping lettuce, broccoli & carrots will be growing in abundance as well! :)

Lantana

Happy Gardening!

Comparisons

When we cleaned out the tomato plants, I let the little gardeners play with the remaining tomatoes. We spent over an hour comparing, discussing & playing with the tomatoes.

We picked out our favorite, the ugliest, the biggest, the smallest, and the smelliest! They lined them on the edge of the gardening beds by size, color & shape.  They even made tomato families.

We made tomato soup & had a pretend picnic. We discussed how important decomposition was, in little gardener terms, and put some of the juicer tomatoes in the composter.

It was a fun lesson for my kids while I worked & got a little exercise in the garden. We all got sunshine, fresh air and enjoyed our morning with the tomatoes!

Happy Gardening!

Lazy Summer Update

Gardening is very slow this time of year.  Instead of fighting the heat, bugs and storms, we take some time to nurture our soil.  We have one eggplant left to eat, sweet potatoes trying to fight off bugs, and most of the garden under cover for a little solarization. Here are some photos from the the end of July:

Lots of mushrooms from the afternoon thunderstorms.

Lil gardener watching the last space shuttle take off.

Our first attempt at sweet potatoes.

Some news to report:

We had a hungry paper wasp devour a green caterpillar in front of us. I read they will kill the caterpillars and bring them back to the nest for food for their larvae, but we watched the little guy eat the caterpillar bite for bite. Maybe it will be regurgitated when she returns to the nest? The research wasn’t clear. It was amazing to witness though!!! I’ve never seen a wasp sit still for so long.  

The Crape myrtles are also heavy with blooms and bees this year.  Better enjoy them while they last!

Happy Gardening!

Eggplants!

Eggplants! Or as my littlest gardener would say, “Egg-ants!”

Our eggplant crop was the largest & most sucessful of our late summer gardening efforts this year.  The littlest gardener really enjoyed the purple veggies.

We chatted about ways to cook them on our Facebook Page this month & our followers came up with some wonderful recipes for me to try! Here’s two delicious suggestions:

Greek Moussaka (submitted by Mastergardening)

Eggplant, Flower and Haloumi stack (submitted by Caroline Webster, who is also fun to follow on Twitter)

 

My littlest gardener found she liked to draw with chalk on the egg-ants we harvested each week.

 

She also enjoyed kissing them! :)

And she even picked some of their flowers & counted to three for me one morning!!!

We are down to just a few eggplants left growing this season. I plan on making my families’ favorite Eggplant Parmesan (with fresh basil) one last time. 

Happy Gardening!

Sweet Potatoes

We are attempting to grow sweet potatoes in our garden for the first time this summer!  Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes like it hot!  They are native to Central and South America. Their vines need room to grow so after our tomatoes, okra and other veggies cleared out of the garden, we planted two sweet potatoes that had gotten old in our pantry.  We first started them in a glass full of water on the kitchen counter.  Much like an avocado, they simply sprouted leaves and roots.

I realized that I started them a bit late. It is recommended they are started in April and May in Florida because they have a 95-120 day harvest.  We started ours in June.  However, they are doing well in the garden and myself and the little gardeners are looking forward to this experience.  

The next step is mulching.  They love mulch to help promote new vines & growth. Here are some other tips I found for planting, growing & harvesting sweet potatoes:

  • Plant sweet potatoes about 12 inches apart, and allow 3 feet between rows so the vines will have plenty of room to run.
  • Good root development depends on aerated soil (that’s why they like mulch). They are the ideal crop for areas with sandy soil.
  • About 2 weeks after planting, feed plants with a balanced organic fertilizer that contains potassium (the third number on the fertilizer label).
  • Sweet potatoes are not very sweet when first dug, but they are fine for sweetened pies or casseroles. They need a period to sit and “cure” to bring out their sweetness. Don’t wash before curing.
  • In late summer, sweet potatoes often produce flowers that resemble those of morning glory, a close botanical cousin.  
  • Taken from various online sources, including: http://www.bonnieplants.com/LearnGrowLibrary/HowtoGrowBonnieVarieties/tabid/128/ID/220/How-to-Grow-Sweet-Potatoes.aspx

We are looking forward to vines, flowers & curing potatoes later this summer! Fingers crossed!

Happy Gardening!

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