“Vegetable gardening offers many benefits, including sun, fresh air, exercise, mental therapy, nutritious fresh vegetables, and economic savings. Vegetables can be grown year-round in Florida if you pay attention to the appropriate planting dates.” Check out UF’s IFAS Extension for more gardening info.
Here’s what we’ve been doing in our garden for the last month…
In September we started seeds for the vegetable beds… beans, collards, radishes, carrots, onions, and lettuce.
My oldest wanted to start the seeds in the playhouse and pretend it was her greenhouse. I think the protection of the playhouse was great for the seedlings.
We have been getting lot of rain here in the past month. The preserve behind our home is turning into a swamp and the mosquitos have been fierce. However, there are beautiful mushrooms everywhere.
Monarch butterflies are back in the garden.
The aphids are back too…
Our pineapple crop survived the transplant and is looking healthy!
Our avocado tree we started from a seed, survived the fungus it got and is looking good and healthy again!
I am so anxious to get things started this year that I couldn’t wait any longer. I planted some fall seeds!!! I know it’s early for our zone 9 gardening. Maybe two – four weeks too early but like I said I couldn’t wait any longer!
I planted most of the seeds in trays and some in the actual garden beds. This year I used an old broken trellis to mark some of the seeds. It will help keep the cat and dog out of the garden until the plants are bigger and established as well!
We planted green onions, Bibb lettuce, parsley, leeks and purple dragon carrots in the raised bed. In the trays we started broccoli, Seminole pumpkin, and marigolds.
Some of the seeds have already sprouted! From left to right: radishes, celery & a mystery sprout. I think it is cauliflower or broccoli that the little gardeners planted a few weeks ago. It was not marked though, so I guess we will see.
What is left of the summer gardening is still doing well. The aloe, grasses, sweet potatoes & herbs are loving the humidity & heat.
I love going to the garden to check on things and finding evidence that the little gardeners have been there. Here they had created a fairy bridge out of old palm bark and toad castle out of an empty pot.
We are looking forward to cooler weather!!! We’ve had our fill of August & the heat! Ugh!
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!
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
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
It seems way too hot to even begin thinking about the fall garden, but September is the time to start preparing for Florida’s fall gardening season!
Our summer garden just finished growing big beautiful okra for us. We’ve enjoyed it in all the traditional southern ways…fried, with tomatoes & in gumbo!
Planning the Fall Garden: before we could plant our seeds we had a little garden prep work this year!
After four years of gardening, three gardens a year, our soil needed a jump start. Even though we had added organic compost after every season we just hadn’t been doing enough for our soil, as last season’s garden had let us know. This season we removed the top foot of soil & spread it places in the backyard that needed attention (i.e., where the dog always tries to dig, where our gutters had washed it away, etc). We then added new organic compost & organic gardening soil (10 cu ft to be exact)!
After tilling our new soil & purchasing our seeds, we designed our garden with consideration to companion gardening rules. For instance, carrots are said to be compatible with beans, cabbage, lettuce, onion & peas & incompatible with celery, dill & parsnip. We design the garden so that the carrots will be located near the peas & onions, etc.
Then we were finally ready for seeds, much to our little gardeners delight! Our fall selections & placement are always made based on what we’ve grown in previous seasons. Crop rotation is important to all garden types & especially to a raised garden’s soil. We diagram the crop locations in the garden box with the kids before planting seeds, but really just use photographs of each year’s garden to reference in the coming seasons.
Planting the Fall Garden: our garden will contain the following 100% certified organic Burpee seeds
Spinach, Bloomsdale Long-Standing
Carrot, Scarlet Nantes
Carrot, Long imperator
Onion Evergreen Long White Bunching
Onion, Granex Hybrid
Pea, Burpeeana Early (the little gardener’s favorite)
Our lil gardener is of preschool age this year & just loved planting seeds. She can tell you that both types of onion seeds are black, radishes are always the first to sprout & peas will need a ladder to grow on. :) Marking the seed rows was also very important to my lil gardener this year. She didn’t want to wait to see the sprouts to figure it out what was where, so we used leftover pieces of recycle wood from our business & made little garden row markers.
We also added Flat Italian Parsley & Stevia to our existing collection of herbs (rosemary, lemongrass, greek oregeno & pineapple mint) this fall. Spinach & Stevia will be a garden first! We will update more on our seedlings soon! Check out our blog for more info on our gardening methods & subscribe to see what we will learn in this season’s garden!