Adventures beyond time

Adventures beyond time

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vegetable Gardening

On the face of it, one would think that gardening in Florida would be a breeze. It is, in a way. The long growing season and abundant moisture provide an excellent environment for many kinds of plants. However, these conditions are also highly favorable for weeds and pest insects, and one must be prepared for the things that want to choke your plants or eat the things you want to eat.

Here in north Florida, one can garden all year. However, one cannot grow all kinds of plants year round. Plants that will grow in the winter garden (e.g. cabbages; lettuce) will wilt and die in the summer, and plants sensitive to frosts obviously will prosper only in the warmer months.

After living here 10 years, I decided to get a bit more serious about gardening. I can't be as serious about it as we were in Pennsylvania and Maryland, because we do not have suitable land. Our 1.2 acres is about 90% wooded, and much of the remainder is shaded. I did find a spot adjacent to the back porch, however, that receives abundant sunlight and is suitable for a small raised garden patch. I will be able to build up the soil by adding organic material each year. Moreover, it is within the fenced portion of the yard, and this should deter deer to some extent. A short chicken wire fence around the garden proper should keep out rabbits when installed.

The accompanying photo shows the layout. At the far end are 5 tomato plants of different varieties, and 4 pepper plants. Between the stepping stones are 6 eggplants, and dimly seen along the landing on the left is a row of 6 okra plants. Close to the wooden deck are 3 basil plants. The unplanted area in the center is the site of my just-recycled winter/spring garden, which included beets and swiss chard. This space will soon be planted with bush beans and pickling cucumbers. On the right of the image are three containers; the farthest contains Italian parsley, the middle oregano, and the closest rosemary.

Anyone looking closely may wonder about the objects at the top of the above photo. These are parts of my home weather station. At the upper left is the solar cell that powers the rain gauge. The collector for the rain gauge is on top of the fence near the center of the image, and the anemometer and wind direction sensor is on the mast at the upper right.

The tomato plants have been in 2 or 3 weeks, and some are already 5-6 feet tall. They will probably have to be replaced before the end of summer, but in the meantime should provide early harvests. The image to the right shows a pear tomato--not yet ready to eat, but not bad for the end of April!

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