July In The Vegetable Garden

Chances are your garden is looking pretty pitiful about now.  The lovely rain, heat, humidity combined with the slower pace has made everything grow... plants as well as bugs and disease organisms. Rain has been a bit spotty this year so your garden may get a good watering then get a bit droughty and need watering, then rain, drought, water... Puts a lot of stress on your plants.

This isn't a bad thing though.  It's the end of our season and the timing is perfect.  It's a signal that it's time to start preparing for your fall and winter garden.  Seriously.

Fall planting starts in August.  There's just enough time to get prepared for it.

Rip out everything that's not healthy, growing well, and producing.

Add amendments to your soil to build it up - good stuff, organic matter… not chemicals.

Fluff that soil and keep it moist and let the microbes get to work making everything fertile.

Could try some solarization to kill off bad juju stuff in the soil (clear plastic on moist soil with the edges anchored down and left to 'cook' in the sun for 6 weeks or so)

I'm going to be trying the bacillus thuringiensis israelensis in my soil for nematodes (they're baaaaack) (update... no nematodes evident where I've used Bti)

It's time to be getting any seeds for plants you want in your fall/winter garden.  You will need to be starting them soon so that they will be just the right size for transplanting when the time comes - things like tomatoes and peppers and melons.

I've got LOTS of work to do out there and I knooooow you do too.  Remember to work early or late and stay hydrated and don't get too much sun - try a wide brimmed hat.  The right hat looks lovely on you ladies and a Panama hat is oh so handsome on you gents.

 Cool Weather Plants

  • Absolutely NONE

Warm Weather Plants

  • Okra
  • Southern peas – black-eyed, crowder, purple hulled, yardlong (also called asparagus bean)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peanuts
  • Malabar and New Zealand spinach – which aren’t spinaches but are good substitutes in hot weather
  • Other miscellaneous TROPICAL fruits and vegetables that you may come across
Posted in Month by Month | 2 Comments

June in the Vegetable Garden

Summer 'officially' starts this month and so does the Hurricane Season... June is a month of waiting... waiting for it to reeeallly get hot, waiting to see if we'll have any hurricanes, waiting for those afternoon thunderstorms and hoping they're not too violent, waiting to harvest, waiting for your soil solarization to work, waiting for the right time to start seedlings for the fall garden (our second spring), waiting waiting waiting...

There isn't much to plant this month so your time will be best spent doing maintenance and preparatory things like tool repair/sharpening, soil solarization, composting, building and preparing new beds, gathering the seeds that you want to plant in your fall garden...

Here is what you can plant while you wait

Cool Weather Plants

  • NONE

Warm Weather Plants

  • Okra
  • Southern Peas - black-eyed, yard long, crowder
  • Peanuts
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • New Zealand and Malabar Spinach (neither of which are really spinach)

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Memorial Day is more important to you as a gardener than you probably know

The men and women who have served in our military, fought to protect our freedom were fighting for your right to garden… a right that is not known world wide and a right that is rapidly being eroded even in our country.

Gardeners I've 'pen-palled' within other countries tell stories of government control of their gardens.  Unbelievable stories… crazy stories… stories that could not possibly have happened here.

But… not so fast.

There are many places here in free USA where gardening is regulated or outright prohibited and illegal with hefty fines and punishments

- Can't plant edible plants in your front yard

- Can't plant more than a certain percent of your property in a garden

- Can't plant within a specified number of feet of property lines

- Can't grow plants over a certain height

- Can't have a greenhouse

- Can't water as needed

- Can't collect rainwater

- Can't make compost

Other garden/feed yourself regulations/laws/mandates that federal, state and municipal governments are trying to put in place include: --- This is the short list...

- Mandated registering of your garden

- Mandated registering of seeds

- Illegal to save seeds

- Illegal to give away your produce (only those living in your household can eat your produce)

- Required to give a certain percentage of your produce to the government for distribution to those who are not growing a garden

- Requiring you to grow certain crops and certain amounts to give to the government for distribution

- Requiring you to only grow items on an approved list (which will have no heirloom or open pollinated veggies on it)

- Dictating the size of your garden

- Dictating where your garden will be

- Dictating the soil make up

- Dictating how and with what you will fertilize it

- Requiring gardens to be communal

- Taxing your garden

- ETC.............

A thing call Agenda 21 by the UN (United Nations) is the main force behind all this.  Many - if not most - communities have adopted Agenda 21 already

Those of you dear readers
who have served our country
and to your wives, husbands, children, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters… who also served by association

We remember and honor you this day for your duty and your sacrifice.

Thank you

 

 

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May In The Vegetable Garden

It's here, the summer slump... technically it's here anyway.  There may be a slump in what you can plant for the next few months, but there is absolutely no slump in what needs to be done in the garden.

Lots of other things are happening in the garden(s) too.  Lots of harvesting going on, egg laying by garden friendly creatures: lizards, birds, toads - usually the toads start singing after the first rain in May... this year they started singing mid April.

The heat and humidity starting in May is going to put a real damper on the garden.  It will be interfering with pollen viability which will lower production, and it creates an environment that bugs and disease totally love.  It is best if you do not work in your garden when it is wet because the chances of spreading disease goes waaaaaay up.

Be on the lookout for fungus... particularly powdery mildew!

Here's the skimpy planting prospects for May (and June and July!)

Cool Weather Plants

NONE

Warm Weather Plants

  • Okra
  • Southern peas (includes black-eyed, yard long, crowder...)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Malabar and New Zealand spinach (not really spinach but a good substitute)
  • Peanuts
  • Maybe squash
  • Maybe watermelon
  • Maybe mustard and turnip (for the greens) - After you pick them they will need to spend some time in the refrigerator or freezer to give them some sweetness and good flavor

Some advice:

  • Don't work in the heat of the day
  • The high humidity is dangerous for you too because your body can't use sweat evaporation to keep you cool
  • If parts of your garden are in shade part of the day, work in the shaded areas and then move with the shade (for example, my whole garden is in shade in the early morning.  Sun first appears at the west side then moves across the garden to the east side.  So, I start my gardening on the west side and then as the sun creeps in, I follow and stay in the shade as it moves over to the east side.
  • Stay hydrated
  • Wear a hat (some sun is very very good - vitamin D3 production - but too much should be avoided)
  • Use some bug repellant (something natural like citronella - get a little bottle of citronella essential oil from a health food store, put a couple of drops on the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, then rub your hands all over the exposed parts of your body - ankles, arms, neck, face, hair... works for me)
  • Take breaks
  • Get a hammock

 

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April In The Vegetable Garden

Another near winterless year for most of us.  Plants are loving it... so are the bugs and diseases.  With no cold weather kill-off, seems like they are getting a major head start.  Spider mites, thrips, aphids, powdery mildew, early blight - just to mention a few - have made themselves at home for many weeks already.

We will be running a series on controlling pests and diseases in the newsletter this month... something you will definitely want so if you've not signed up for it yet, do so now! Put your name and e-mail in the form at the top of the right sidebar!

Though we didn't have much in the way of winter this year, temperatures are dropping below the normal average frequently.  Because of that, you could experiment with pulling from the "March In The Vegetable Garden" list a little bit into April.  April's list is stingy.

Cool Weather Plants

  • NONE

Warm Weather Plants

  • Beans - bush, pole, lima
  • Cantaloupes
  • Okra
  • Southern peas - crowder, black-eyed, yard long...
  • Sweet potatoes
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March in the Vegetable Garden

WOW! No winter at all this year, for the most of us...

(if you don't count that little surprise freeze a week or two ago)

plants are aaaaall confused.

March plantings are not much different from February's, but the important thing is this:

March is the last big planting month for the spring season.

With April's warmth, the number of things you can plant drops drastically and then in May, June, and July there are really very few things you can plant at all... you need to have the plants growing already.  Heat and humidity will affect plant growth and productivity - and so will the bugs and diseases!!

So here's the list for March

Cool Weather Plants

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Collards
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion - multiplier, bunching
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Turnip

Warm Weather Plants

  • Beans - bush, pole, lima
  • Cantaloups
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Southern peas
  • Peppers
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Summer Squash
  • Winter Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Remember though, this is just a generic list.  At your house in your gardening, things aren't going to be generic.  Yours may be warmer, cooler, sunnier, shadier, dryer, moister, more fertile, different pH, more organic matter, yadda yadda yadda... than the average generic garden.

Look around your garden world.  Observe what and where things are growing, sprouting, the color, the health, moisture, disease... and use this information combined with a little common sense to guide your garden planting decisions.

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February in the Vegetable Garden

WOW!  Looks like we might have another winterless year (from about Orlando south anyway)... 3 in a row.

That's good, but it's bad.

Good because we get extra growth, don't have cold damage dieback, soil flora and fauna grow faster building that good rich soil, planting season is extended, more time to enjoy the outdoors in our garden paradises...

Bad because no freeze means no killing off some of the bugs or at least slowing them down, and bad because it gives us a false sense of "Spring is here" so we plant and then get a frost or freeze that destroys our seedlings and transplants.  The fruit trees and bushes get confused and bloom when they shouldn't, and there won't be enough 'chill hours' that some fruits and berries need to produce or ripen fruit.  The greens don't get that touch of frost/cold to make them sweet...

Regardless of whether we have any winter weather or not, there is a lot of planting to be done ind February.

This list is not carved in stone.  It is only the recommended list of the FL Extension Service -- which means it's general.  Your yard is not identical to their test plots.  Yours may be cooler, warmer, wetter, dryer, higher, lower, more sun, less sun, protected, exposed... and then there are the micro-climates all over the place. 

Experiment.  Chinese cabbage and spinach are not on the list for February, but I want to plant them.  So, I'll find a spot in my yard that's a little bit cooler and has a little less sun than the rest and plant some Chinese cabbage and spinach there.  If it works, GREAT!  If it doesn't, nothing lost.  It's worth the chance.

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Warm Weather Plants

  • Beans - bush, pole, lima
  • Cantaloupes
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Summer Squash
  • Winter Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Cool Weather Plants

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Collards
  • Endive/Escrole
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion - multiplier, bunching
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Turnip
Posted in Month by Month | 3 Comments

January in the Vegetable Garden

New year, new things, new plans... Soooooo excited!  I can feel down in my gardener's bones that it's going to be a good one.

This month we can get a few warm weather things into the garden - BUT BE PREPARED TO PROTECT THEM!  We're far from being out of the woods for some plant killing weather - frost or even a freeze.

Warm Weather Plants (Get seeds started in pots so that they will be ready to transplant into your garden in 4-6 weeks)

  • Eggplants
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelons

Cool Weather Plants

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Endive/Escrole
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion - multiplier and bunching, but not bulb
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Turnips
  • Garlic
  • Spinach isn't on the "official" list but you could try it anyway

Next month the planting really breaks loose!

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Merry Christmas

ChristmasTree

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December In The Vegetable Garden

 

DSC_0459

Frosts and freezes have already hit parts of Central Florida Zone 9 this season... a little early. Normally, we all should be getting our first frost within the next couple of weeks... Sooner for the northern parts of Zone 9a and later for Zone 9b - particularly the southern parts.

Use the map to find your zone then the chart to find your average expected first frost date.

FL Hardiness Zone Map

 

floridamap

 

 

first and last frost FL

All the things you can plant in your garden this month will not be bothered by frosts or even a freeze.  BUT, if you have any warm weather plants in your garden, THEY WILL NEED PROTECTION!

At Central Florida Gardening we build a temporary greenhouse (a frame with construction plastic over it and a flap for the door -- lots and lots of duct tape... LOTS!) and then heat it with strings of Christmas lights.  Works GREAT! Looks WONDERFUL!... particularly at night.

This kind

imgres

 

NOT this kindimages

 

Note of warning, there will be LOTS of condensation inside, so much that it will feel like it's raining in there.

Another Note, you will have to be able to open it and provide some ventilation for heat to escape on those warm sunny days.

 

 

Warm Weather Plants

  • NONE (but next month there will be)

Cool Weather Plants

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion - bulb, multiplier, bunching
  • Peas
  • Radish

 

Posted in Month by Month, Weather | 2 Comments