Friday, May 1, 2009

Little Garden...Little far

I realized today what little patience I have for things that don't want to grow. Perhaps it is because I am used to a big city and instant gratification or because everything else is just so readily available via the internet. 

After seeing Tom MacCubbin's garden blog in the Orlando Sentinel I really feel bad for my little garden. 

OK....FINE he is a master gardener and has been doing this his whole life. In fact, my best friend's mom lent me her copy of his book from 1986 and it is part of my gardening bible guides. But MAN, I am freaking jealous of his garden. I also have been visiting tons of blogs today and garden sites just looking at all the planters out there. Really, my little baby garden has a long way too go. AND, the planting schedule here has me so thrown off because normal gardening books dont really apply so I am having to amend what I think should be planted with what actually should already have been planted. I just have to trust it to grow or not. 

I guess for the next few days I will just be chopping up my crappy sandy soil and possibly sun-solarizing it (I actually dont know if I have nematodes) and getting it ready for some fall crops. All my seeds are planted for now and I will just have to figure out where everything will go. I am probably going to design a garden layout in the next few days and I think my mom's plants are all now in my care so I will have to keep those in mind.

Tomorrow I am going to an above-ground box making class and a worm class. YES, FINALLY! Worms! My friends in Miami think I have completely jumped shipped at this comment. 

OH! Today mi Abuela came by and doled out her genius on me. Apparently my winter squash is not a going to be a winter squash. Since I got the seeds from my friend Barbara I just assumed she was right. I guess we will know if it turns yellow which is what it looks like it is doing and by the flavor? I could use some help here.

Also I had planted some baby plants I thought might be baby bananas - turns out - I'm totally wrong. Oh well. Grandma didn't remember the name of the real plant but its ok. I'm sure with some research I'll figure it out. 

As always Abuela gave some sage advice today:
A garden will grow when it wants to grow, when it can grow and whether you want it to grow or not. 

c'est la vie!

I have some new seedlings that popped up too - which I think are not what they say they are. Guess it is all part of learning from scratch. One more thing - I think I have my first pest! A Darn Leaf Miner!

Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, April 30, 2009

New pics...

I was in the hospital with my mom for most of today so I didn't get much done in my garden.

I replanted some zinnia as they already had their 4th leaves and I replanted and staked my blueberry bush because it needed a larger pot. 

Some new pics below - my Summer Squash is filling out - but now has a white film on the leaves (mold maybe?). My chives are doing great. You can also see my newly replanted tomatoes which I spoke about yesterday. Some new strawberries. 

Then there are baby seedling pics of the Purple Peppers and Chamomile (soooo tiny). Also here are my newly replanted Creamy tomato seedlings they were on top of each other. Then there is a pic of all my new pots with new seeds and finally the Stevia plant. 

I've decided not to water my plants for at least 2 days because I think they are getting to the point where they might not need the everyday watering. The daily temps are in the low 80s during the day and the mid to high 70s at night. Also I TOTALLY messed up with the Farmer's Almanac and moon calendar. I will just have to pray they do well.

Good luck with your planting too.
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tomatoes! New Seeds! Poop! Farmer's Almanac!

Today was another busy day. It is getting hot here which means things really need to get seeded and in the ground before Florida's summer heat hits and everything wilts and dies.

Today I planted the tomatoes that were all sitting in one pot. I have learned alot about tomatoes since I have started gardening and even though I thought mine were doing well, by garden standards they were sucking the big one.

The longest, but probably the best, soil recipe I have found for tomatoes comes from Love Apples Farm out in Cali. She sells a HUGE list of tomato plants as well and other stuff - her farm is also beautiful. 

Her soil list:
Compost, soil conditioner, humic acid, chicken compost, worm castings, crab meal, egg shells, raw fish heads, bone meal, Mycorrhizal root booster and fertilizer (4-6-4 or 5-5-5), and two aspirins. 

Man can this girl make up the ultimate soil recipe. See recipe HERE.

I couldn't do all of this, mostly because it gets expensive, but because I couldn't get a hold of some of the ingredients in time. I convinced my dad to save me 4 fish heads and tails from his catch this morning and put one under each of the newly planted tomato bushes. GO TEAM DAD! 

Then I mixed the bone meal, cow manure, potting soil, aspirin, some Miracle Grow (I got on sale at Ace) and the sandy soil I already had (which baked in the sun hopefully killing off any sneaky nematodes). And now it is in God's (or whatever you believe in) hands to make them grow big and wonderful.

I went shopping with my sis to get the cow manure which means she made me spend money! I ended up buying her sunflower seeds (Mammoth and Double Sun Gold) which I have now planted and will most likely be taking care of. I needed the bees anyway. 

Also bought today:
Sweet Basil seeds
Marigold, Crackerjack, Mixed Colors
Cucumber Straight Eight 
Cucumber Boston Pickling

I also got an oregano plant and a stevia. I have NO IDEA what to do about stevia so I guess that will be my new project. 

The squash is still growing, the strawberries are still getting redder, and the lettuce is still seeding (friday I will post how to save those). Also most of the radishes have popped up.

Tomorrow is my last day for seeding and re-planting for a few days since the Farmer's Almanac says the May 2-6 are dead days. I hope I can get my tea tree in the ground and the zinnias separated and in pots by then.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Digging another hole...

SO - I just spent an hour in the hot Florida sun digging a BIGGER hole and expanding my garden. I find that one of the worst things right now about gardening is a real lack of pictures of seed to harvest so I will keep that in mind as I continue to grow. I picked up some new dirt and I picked up some new dirt techniques. Which I will be sharing as soon as I have had a chance to try them out.

The new hole is so that I can un-dig my tomato plants that have been happily growing in a pot to replant them and actually make them happy. I found some MORE seeds lying around my house: Spinach and Small Sweet Pumpkin variety so I planted them a little out of season.

While doing my garden research I realize this has been VERY poorly planned garden, but Hey, this is my first one! SO I will make due and here are some current pics of the tomatoes and other things. Also first strawberry of the season and it tasted GREAT! This is a pic of the life-cycle of the strawberry and then a pic of the one I ate.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Rare Tree Event and a busy gardening weekend

So I don't know if I will be able to post on weekends. I will try my best but it is really the only time I have to garden hard.

This Saturday I was fortunate enough to go to the Brevard Rare Fruit Council tree sale with Andy. I picked myself up a nice Red Tea Leaf bush - which I am fairly certain is not a Rooibos but is a Chinese tea the name Red coming from the type of color it causes the liquid. Here is a pic - let me know if you can figure it out. I already contacted Tropical Fruit Nursery so maybe they can help. :( Here is a list of just some of the tropical plants they had.

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From garden

Apparently there are mainly 3 types of Tea plants Chinese, Assam and Rooibos (Red Tea). I did not know that was it. Depending on the way you treat the leaves you will get the different types of teas out there (white, green, black, oolong, Darjeeling, etc.) There are different processes which are used and different times the teas are picked which will give the different flavors of the teas. Wikipedia has a decent article on it.
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They had the Jackfruit and the Grumichamas there but were out of the cinnamon and vanilla orchids. Andy decided to get a Mulberry tree - they grow large and unfortunately I am limited to my yard. While looking at the trees they had available we met Marlinda who is part of the Council and a wonderful soul. She offered Andy a free mulberry tree if we went to her house to pick it up. SWEET DEAL! At Marlinda's house we got to taste the mulberries off of her tree and we met her neighbor a sweet 95 yr-old woman who grew up growing Ginseng on her family farm in NY! Marlinda also told great stories about traveling on a bus with her friend who dyed her clothes with mulberries and BOY do they dye quickly. Marlinda was so great she even gave me a Pomegranate bush/tree too. She said she traveled alot and it needed a good home. Free for me = SOLD! So here it is planted.
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Andy gave me some flower seeds too - Morning Glories and a butterfly flower which I will just have to wait and see what comes up. The zinnias I planted have mostly sprouted and the creamy tomatoes are doing great. Also the radishes have come up. This means my garden has grown AGAIN! My friend Jose complained my garden list is a big o' mess so here is the new update.

Onions (Sweet Spanish Utah Jumbo), Onions (like chives), Onion - from my kitchen
Red peppers (California Wonder, a Florida Heirloom, Long Red Sweet)
Chocolate peppers
Purple Beauty Bell peppers
Lettuce (Parris Island Co Romaine)
Winter squash, Summer Squash (Zucchini Dark Green)
Purple Dragon Carrots

Gandules (Pigeon Peas)

Tomato Varieties: Beefsteak, Plum, Patio (hybrid), Bradley,Creamy Tomato (Amish Heirloom),

Parsley (Italian flat leaf)
Sweet Basil

Zinnias (Giant Double Mixed and Giant Violet Queen)
Morning Glory
White and yellow daisy looking plant (unknown)

Wow this list is growing. There are other plants at this house too which I have been taking care of including an orchid, 3 poinsettia trees, some cacti and some giant staghorns. I wont include them in this blog though since I don't consider them mine but if I end up working on them even more they will be adopted soon enough.

I guess I will keep dreaming about my future farm and hopefully I will be able to go visit the manure farm soon. FYI - I never though in my life I would say that.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Beneficial Bugs

Today is Friday - an informative day. I have to say I am truly not an expert at gardening AT ALL - but I do know that alot of my plants are flowering and then not producing fruit. This can only mean a few things - one of which is a lack of pollination. When I am outside I normally see a few butterflies, some dragonflies, some regular flies and then a TON of wasps. I'm guessing what I need is some bees. This started me researching the subject of Beneficials bugs. 

There are lots of reasons you want these beneficial bugs in your I'll put down a few. 

They say to keep them around make sure to leave some bare area for them to tunnel in and make nest and have a shallow water source. I am not so sure I want bees to hang out in my garden because I have been stung by them and that sucks.

Lady Bugs:
Bug eaters!
I always thought they were just pretty and cute. My aunt from Spain considers them good luck. But now I know they are predators who eat everything from aphids to mealybugs to spider mites. I like them even more now - they are like Bette Davis - vicious and beautiful. 

Ground beetles:
Bug eaters
Cutworms be ware! Snail and slug eggs too. I guess you have to like them now too.

Parasitic wasps:
Baby makers
Truly gross they breed by putting their eggs in host insects and then the larvae eat the host bugs which are usually bad guys. How sci-fi can you get? I guess they are so mean because they grow up in dead carcasses. 

Syrphid flies: 
Bug eaters
The babies do the damage here - they lay eggs in aphid colonies and the babies eat them. 

Yellow jackets/hornets: 
Bad bug eaters (They eat: flies, caterpillars and larvae)
I have to admit these scare me the most and there are ALOT of them. So for them to stay they better do their job or those nests are coming down ASAP!

Aphid midges: 
I'm actually not totally sure about this bug but I think I need some for my squash - they look like little orange maggots and feed on Aphids. 

Pesty bug eaters
Ok not totally useless...they eat mosquitoes, gnats and some flies. Seeing as how I live in FL these might be my new fave bug if they keep eating the mosquitoes.

Brown Lacewings:
Bug eaters
Aphids, mealybugs and other insect eggs.

Spiders and mites:
Arachnids not bugs - but are bug eaters
Of course spiders are creepy but I don't mind them or their webs if they keep the bug population down. As for mites there are both good and bad. The good ones can help keep the nematode population down which is fine by me. Mites also like other decaying organic matters so they keep your garden pretty clean.

They say that you can buy the aphid midges, lady bugs, mites and lacewings from stores for grand scale farms - but I doubt my little place will need and/or hold that many bugs. 

I guess the best thing to do would be list flowers and the bugs they attract. I am not sure about your local type of plants that would grow - but this list will grow down here in FL and I am pretty sure you can find varieties for your zone. 

Angelica (my new purple flowers): Lady bugs, lacewings
Chamomile (just planted): Parasitic wasps, hoverflies
Morning glory: Lady bugs
Goldenrods: Lady bugs, parasitic wasps
Sunflowers/zinnias/aster: parasitic wasps and others 
Iberis (candytufts): Syrphid flies
Evening primrose: Ground beetles
Achillea (yarrows): Bees, hoverflies
Nasturtiums: whiteflies, squash bugs and a sacrificial crop for aphids (I may need these)
Petunias: sacrificial crop for japanese beetles, aphids
Gazanias/Calendulas (my new gazanias): sacrificial crop for aphids

Some herbs make for great Beneficial bug bringers as well.
Fennel/dill/anise/coriander: Parasitic wasps

More about the sacrificial crops at a later date. 

Tomorrow I am off to the Brevard County Rare Fruit Council Sale. I will be going with Andy who is apparently a fan of growing things at home and has been for a while. He says he's been trying to go forever to this show and I don't blame him. I'm hoping to pick up some vanilla and cinnamon tomorrow - YUM! The best thing about this sale is that they will have very rare tropical items. Some of these I know from living in SoFla and eating all the island influenced food but some are just crazy looking and I cant wait to try. Like the Grumichamas and the Pitomba

Most of these items are trees and grow very large - so I dont think I will be picking and of those up. :(  I am already wishing I had a farm.

Pics for the day:
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Creamy Tomato babies
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And the strawberries are turning red!

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blog Day 2!

So I've really been busy today and I realize I will need a system for this blog just like the system I am starting for the garden. I would like to post every day pictures of something and then Mon, Wed, and Fri post some of the information I've researched. I think I could write months of stuff right now since I've been at it a few months. So seeing as how it is Thursday I guess I will show you some picks of the garden and of the manatees and dolphins that have been swimming around in the river of my backyard.
From Animals
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Also today I bought and planted a bunch of new things :(  I am spending too much these days on my new addiction so I will be learning alot more on how to do this on the cheap. Gazanias, Angelica, and something that looked like chamomile or a mini was cute :/
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I also bought a bunch of new seeds!  Onions (Sweet Spanish Yellow Utah Jumbo), Catnip Radishes (Cherry Bell), Chamomile (German), Zinnias (Giant Violet Queen) and Zinnias (Giant Double, Mixed Colors)
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I also forgot to mention some other things I am already growing.... Bananas and Gandules (which are Pigeon Peas). I don't know what brand of pigeon peas they are - I got them from a neighbor and they have already sprouted in just 7 days!
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I also pulled some carrots and have some picks of some lettuce crops and since this is the best part of growing - SEEING what you've grown followed by eating it I figured I would show some pics. The carrots are purple because they are an heirloom variety and at one time all carrots were purple and we bred the orange inside to replace the purple outside. Crazy! 
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From garden
Just so everyone can see my full little, mini-garden (minus the gandules and bananas) I took a bunch of pictures and put them all together.
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I just put the black border up because our lawn guy came and almost took out my onion patch and squash! and COVERED my seedlings in junky grass leftovers! I found the black border lying around - so at least I didn't have to buy it - PLUS now I can think about what else I am going to put in the ground since the border is bigger than my current plot.