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.
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.
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.
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…
The garden is in full swing this month! We are enjoying daily fresh radishes, lettuce & carrots! We have green tomatoes on our plants, something that is somewhat of an accomplishment because I have horrible luck with growing tomatoes.
Early sunflowers & marigolds are blooming for our pollinators & we have been starting new seeds almost every chance we get. Leeks are just sprouting & we are waiting on more basil, sunflowers & onions to sprout.
I walked to a local farmers market last week & came home with more than just fresh collard greens. These herbs (basil & Vicky’s plant) followed me home as well. We replanted them in these homemade chalkboard pots. The little gardeners loved helping me mark them.
Eggplant & green pepper plants are getting big in the garden & we look forward to their first blooms! Something has been munching on them a little but this is something that comes with sustainable gardening & I think they will be just fine.
Earlier this month we read a great post by The Gardening Mom on our Facebook feed about making a home for the frogs & toads in the garden! We gave it a try last weekend & are still hoping for a new residence to move in!
When it comes to stepping out of the box, the vegetable garden box…I am a novice gardener. However, I have been slowly developing a love for lilies. Maybe it’s because two close friends in very different circles, had babies they named Lily. Or maybe it’s because every year on my daughter’s birthday, our Amaryllises bloom. Whatever the case I have been learning more about them and looking for ways to carefully incorporate them into the garden.
Our Amaryllis Lilies bloom just once in March and April and bear cluster of four red flowers. These lily bulbs were given to be my hair stylist over seven years ago. I have transplanted them everywhere we have moved.
Next in line to bloom will be our Swamp Lily. When I moved in with my husband over ten years ago, he showed up with a house plant. Once we moved into our first home, I moved that house plant outside and within a few weeks we had a Swamp lily that was huge and blooming (which it never had done before)! That following summer the four foot lily gave me more than twenty baby lilies. I dug them up and gave them to some of my gardening friends. Swamp lilies will start to bloom in April or May, depending on the weather, and will continue to bloom until it gets cold again.
New to our yard this year are Gloriosa lilies. A friend gave me some of these tropical lily bulbs. I researched what they looked like and how they would need a trellis for assistance. I had an old one lying around, so I thought I’d throw it up in a bare spot and plant these free lilies. One of them is close to showing us its first bloom!
One important thing to note…most lilies are toxic!!! Even my Easter lily is toxic, which I moved outside as soon as I realized this. I am thankful it never made my children or animals sick since it took residence in my living room for the last five years. With a wild toddler age gardener, a cat and a dog to consider, you can never be too careful. That’s one nice thing about vegetable gardening…you never have to worry about eating something poisonous!
Well, spring is flying by here in Florida. The weather is back in the upper 80s and the mosquitoes are back biting again. We sure didn’t miss them. I’ve had to adjust the garden’s water to help the new sprouts deal with the humidity and heat. A few more months and it will be too hot for most of the veggies currently in the garden.
Tomato blooms are appearing daily on our four Celebrity tomato plants.
Our Teddy Bear Sunflowers, which we planted from seeds, are now about a foot tall and showing us the first signs of future blooms. Two even survived a recent transplant!
Strawberries have been plentiful on the plants, but have been eaten by little critters before they are ripe enough for harvest.
Our Pineapple mint has been plentiful. We have been harvesting it left and right for teas, salads & other yummy creations.
We finally got some parsley to sprout and look forward to more fresh herbs for cooking.
We have also transplanted more French Marigolds in our raised beds. This is the first year we have started them from seeds and have been very happy with our results!
One of the great things about nature is it’s always teaching us something, if we are paying attention. I disgarded some dried up marigolds last fall. I simply tossed the dead plants into an area full of banana trees. To my surprise I have wild marigolds in the banana trees this season! How cute!
Other gardening notes… our composting is doing lovely with the return of the heat. I should have a new batch in just another week or so. We have also added organic blood meal & organic fertilizer to the garden to help boost spring time production!
We’ve been busy bees: planting seeds, harvesting fresh vegetables, composting, and eating! Life in the garden has been fabulous.
Here’s an update in pictures…
Onions & lettuce dominated the garden this winter.
Onions will be ready soon. Granex Hybrid
Lil gardeners love helping me harvest the lettuce with their wagons!
Our Baby Red Mix Lettuce was easy & fun to grow this year.
Still plenty of Bibb Lettuce (in different stages) in the garden.
Rosemary is the only herb doing well & available for cooking at the moment.
So much fresh lettuce, we’ve been giving it to our neighbors & friends!
taking a break…
We also planted the following seeds over the weekend… my little gardeners can’t wait for the sunflowers & carrots to sprout!
Sweet Pepper (Big Dipper)
Sunflowers (Teddy Bear)
Eggplant (Black Beauty)
Carrots (Purple Dragon)
Spring is almost here! Happy Gardening!
This week we found ourselves trying to stay warm indoors. Since we couldn’t get outside to play & work in the garden, we brought the garden inside (well via some painting).
In preparing for spring we had ordered our seeds online a few weeks ago & upon arriving in the mail my little gardener was very curious about the new seed packets. When she found out one of the packets were Purple Dragon Carrots, carrots that were purple on the outside & orange on the inside, she was more than delighted!!! She wanted to know where I had gotten them, how long before we could plant them, how many days would it take to grow them & what would they would taste?! After telling her to slow down, I answered all her questions.
Earlier in the day before the seeds arrived, we had been learning about sequences & the order of things in our home & in our world. My little gardener wanted to know what the sequence of the purple carrots would be & I told her to think about it & to tell me what it would be. She went to her arts & crafts table & came back and asked for five pieces of paper & something to draw with. I smiled & dug out the paint (her favorite) & she drew the sequence of our purple dragon carrots for me! I love how she ended the sequence with the carrots on the dinner plate, such an important part of the relationship we have with the earth & the food we eat. Our lesson even got mommy excited about the purple dragon carrots.
Purple Dragon Carrot Info (I will report & post pictures in the spring garden)
Gloriously sweet with the richest, most intense purple color.
Slice it, shred it, love it. This gloriously sweet carrot is the richest, most intense purple. We love to make a cool summer carrot salad of yellow, orange and purple varieties, delicious and a treat for the eyes. Carrot aficionados (and who isn’t) will delight in this unique, yet tasty, variety with its purple skin and light yellow core. 65-70 days.
Sun: Full Sun
Height: 4-8 inches
Days to Maturity: 65-70 days
With Florida’s heat & humidity at its worse, we have been limiting our nature loving to non-physical activities…like photography! I love the challenge of a moving bumble bee & feel photography gives us another avenue to respect & interact with this beautiful planet.