Posts Tagged ‘zone 9’

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!

July’s Garden Outlook

Summer in our Florida garden is full of humidity, heat, bugs & thunderstorms.  Our sunflowers have completed their growing cycles, but they were still beautiful on their way to seed.

   

There is still an abundance of eggplant in the garden. I’ve been chatting on our facebook page about how to cook them & my followers have given me some awesome recipe suggestions!

Our tomatoes, green peppers, okra & squash have all either been defeated by disease & bugs or have completed their growing cycles.   However, the parsley, sage, oregano & comfy herbs are doing quite well. Here is some potted Italian parsley that has been delicious to cook with this summer.

Pineapple mint is also on its way out.  The blooms are beautiful though. I will need to dry some for my winter teas soon. 

Afternoon thunderstorms are frequent now. My avocado plants are loving this tropical weather pattern!

Can’t have too many thunderstorms without seeing a rainbow!

The swamp lilies are next in line to bloom in the backyard. I love their white blooms in the summertime!

Happy Gardening!

Wordless Wednesday

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Garden Update: 6.21.11

Happy First Day of Summer!

My little piece of paradise. :)

It feels like 98 degrees in the garden this afternoon.  It’s been HOT and we’ve had a lot of smoke from the area wildfires on top of the heat.  We have managed to get out in the garden a little bit though!  The Organicide spray is helping with whatever wilt or bacteria was taking over the garden. We lost the okra & peppers but everything else is looking much better! 

We harvested the first of our eggplants & the garden is full of the color purple!

Our two Celebrity tomato bushes have been producing more tomatoes than we know what to do with! I’ve been giving them to friends and neighbors, and even tried making my own sauce in the Crockpot with some of them.

There are more green tomatoes on the plants too.   I will have to look into more ways of saving & using them.  We’ve had tomatoes with almost every meal this week! hehe

This is how big just one tomato plant has gotten. It has to be at least six feet tall and six feet wide! It is funny how I have failed at growing them for years & then this year has been a stellar crop.

Even the basil is looking good this week. It is something that is hard to grow in humid Florida summers, since it is prone to wilt & disease.  It has been a delicious addition to our meals!

I am also happy to report that my avocado plants have recovered. They weren’t getting enough sun & were getting too much water. Now they are looking much healthier & getting big for the containers!

We are looking forward to the break the vegetable gardens give us in July. We have plans to close the composer & solarize the soil once the current veggies finish their cycles.  

Happy Gardening!

June Gardening Update

It’s hot in the garden these days! I refrain from using the term ‘miserably hot’, as I’m saving it for a later summer garden post, but it is hot here in Central Florida! So hot now that it is affecting our garden.

To be honest I have additionally neglected the garden the last couple of weeks. Life has been busier than usual lately & full of its blessings & problems. When I finally got to the garden, I realized it is one of those problems now.

The pepper plants are wilted & dying. The okra & marigolds are covered with white spots, (which I hope isn’t Botrytis Blight) and the tomatoes have fruit worms loving them from top to bottom. Even the sunflowers seem to have black & yellow on their leaves. Boo!

Every time I try to extend my gardening season, this is what happens. I do not like gardening in Florida in June & July. I should let this be a lesson (or a reminder). I should wrap up spring gardening in May. Then, solarize & improve the garden soil in June & July, while getting ready to start planting in late August.

After taking a closer look at the peppers, I’m just not sure what is going on there. There is no sign of pest or infestation. All six big beautiful peppers & the plants’ leaves are all wilted. A few days of watering didn’t improve anything; a few days of no water didn’t improve anything either. I opened up one of the peppers & it is crisp on the inside but leathered & wilted on the outside. Oh well, I pulled them up, along with the okra & made sure they didn’t go in the compost. The marigolds might go next. I will need to do some more research on the spots. Hoping it is nothing major in my soil. :(


Even my Vicky’s plant was by the potted basil & getting too much water this month.

I am thankful for the eggplants. They look great & there is purple all over the garden. I could also note the tomatoes are not a total loss. I’m removing the fruit worms & the three big plants are producing more tomatoes than I need…so far.

Happy, errr, Gardening.

Weekend Garden Update

We enjoyed a nice weekend at home, with no agendas, no schedules, no company & nothing too important to do!  Our busy little family doesn’t get a weekend like this very often, so we are very thankful for the easy of this weekend. 

The garden has been very productive since our last update.  We have eaten our first tomato of the season, among other yummy things. I love to update with pictures so here they are! :)

We have tons of tomatoes!

Our new squash blooms.

The first signs of okra!

We have a row of new sunflowers.

We replanted forgotten lemon grass.

The first of our eggplants are appearing!

Our green peppers are appearing as well!

  

We removed some parsley from the full sun & planted it in partial sun, under our banana trees. It is doing much better.

Happy Gardening!

The garden before we left…

We’re on vacation right now but I wanted to share what the garden looked like before we left!  Fingers crossed we get some rain while I am away. If we don’t, I fear some seedlings won’t make it.

I am very pleased with my tomato growing efforts this year. I am hoping that my absence from the garden for the week, doesn’t give them any setbacks. I have 7 or 8 green tomatoes like the ones above.

The kids have been growing carrots for a few years now.  To liven things up this year we planted organic purple dragon carrots as well. :) Our first batch is almost ready. They little gardeners picked a few too early but they were still delicious.  (They taste like an orange carrot if you’re wondering).

All the herbs are doing great, especially the pineapple mint, sage & rosemary! I haven’t seen the rosemary grow so thick in years.

The lettuce & radishes are gone in the garden for now.  We enjoyed over 54 heads of lettuce & had the opportunity to learn about saving lettuce seeds (post about this soon)!

The okra, green peppers & eggplant are getting bigger every day. I can’t wait to see their first blooms! Below: eggplant & okra about thirty days old.

Our lantana is blooming like crazy. It looks so bright & pretty in our backyard.  Just another reason I love this time of year…

Happy Gardening!

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