Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Figs! Today's harvest...

The woodpeckers are out there now, squabbling over the still-unripe figs left on the tree... I thought they were insectivores? 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

What's happening in my quarden?

This spring, I've added a banana plant, passionfruit vine, Peruvian Apple Cactus (Cereus repandus), an avocado of unknown but reliable stock ("It looks like a Florida avocado but has the flavor and texture of a Mexican" is what my friend told me)...

And a Jackfruit tree in the front... All of these are a couple years before they produce...

So, listing fruits in my yard: Figs (green (Alma) and purple), plums (3 kinds, all of the Gulf Series), lemons, Sunraycer nectarine, Florida Tangelo, Nesbit grapes, blueberries (Emerald and several others), Surinam cherries, pineapple guavas, so many pineapples, 'gator pear, Fuyu persimmons (2 trees), Mysore Raspberry (black), Kaffir lime tree...

I cut down my mulberry tree because it was misbehaving. Never had luck with my pomegranate (watery, flavorless), so I cut it down, too...

I think that's it...

  • Guavas: July and August
  • Persimmons: September
  • Grapes: August, September, October
  • Tangelo and Lemons: Winter (November-January)
  • Blueberries: March mostly... but produces through April
  • Surinam Cherries: April, May and again in fall
  • Plums: March and April
  • Nectarine: April
  • Raspberries: Spring
  • Figs: Late May
  • Pineapples: When they want
  • Bananas: When they want

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Oh, and... CHOCOLATE SPRINKLES FNT HYBRID & MINT JULEP from Tomato Growers Supply Company

I've been really impressed by the vigor of


which I bought from (of course) Tomato Growers Supply Company... It's been producing in my garden since early February (maybe January? This is why I used to keep a blog...). It's very vigorous, productive, the tomatoes seem to ripen reasonably quickly once set... And the flavor of the tomatoes is excellent, not overly sweet. And they look great mixed in with other small-bodied tomatoes. MINT JULEP has done well in my garden, too: Largish for small-bodied tomatoes, it's hard to know when to pick them. (Pick them when they come off the plant without undo tugging, then let them ripen on the countertop a few days.) Very pretty green and yellow... Good flavor, not great.

It's been a while...

I'm still gardening, and this coronavirus pandemic has meant I'm spending more time in the garden than usual. Plums, nectarines, figs, lemons, leeks, tomatoes, blackberries, blueberries, arugula, herbs of all sorts, broccoli and kale........ All that's going on, mostly in the 15'x15'...

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Plant your tomato seeds!

It's that time already in Central Florida! The aim is to have seedlings large enough to transplant by March 1... I'm usually late, and it all works out OK. These aren't really my A-List of tomatoes, but, really, they'll work. I've written this many times in many ways, but here are my priorities for tomatoes:
1) Have a good mix of cherry, small, medium and a few large. The large tomatoes are really for bragging rights... It's HARD to grow large tomatoes in our climate! And they don't really merit the effort. But it's very easy to grow smaller ones. Juliet is an all-around best tomato for Florida--it has remarkable resistance to skin split and to piercing insects. Plus, it's multifunctional--it's a small-bodied Italian Roman type, so you can make a great sauce with it, and you can eat them out of hand. 
2) Pick early- and mid-season. 
3) Hybrids. Yeah, I know, no romance. But in exchange, you get tomatoes! Forget about your olde-tymey tomatoes... they were great a hundred years ago!
4) Pick the tomatoes with the most letters after them! (The letters indicate disease and pest resistance.)
5) Only indeterminates. Do NOT bother with determinates. Trust me. 
6) Worry less about spacing when you plant them, more about SUPPORT. Look through this blog for my ideas on trellising. Ultimately, the best, cheapest, most adaptable trellis is made with a mix of electrical conduit, rebar for sidewalks, and LOTS OF ZIPTIES. figure that each plant will weigh in excess of 35 pounds when fully bearing. Multiply that times the number of plants, and then add zome more zipties!
7) Plan to pick them earlier than you'd think: I like to pick my fruit when the bottom of the tomato is fully colored. Then, I let them ripen on the counter. Better flavor, better texture.
8) I always end up buying a few plants from the nursery. They're never very good, but the temptation is irresistible. 

I really like Tomande, a constant in my garden. It looks and tastes like an old-fashioned tomato, but is an excellent hybrid. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The pickleworm is arrived... And an update on the Central Florida Garden in May

It was a great cucumber season. But I noticed a couple worms today... If you search this site, you'll see the various ways I've tried to defeat the worm, but, really, after such a great season, this time I'm going to call it quits... So I picked the ones on the vine, soaked them in a bucket until the worm popped out (only a couple had been attacked), and will give them to friends... (Only so many cucumbers can one man eat!) 

By the way, you can greatly extend the freshness of a cucumber by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap (I use Saran) and tucking it into the refrigerator. Those "English cucumber" guys are on to something...

I'm also amending my "best crops for Florida" list to include Fortex pole beans. Wow. The sheer fecundity and ease of culture. Very tender (too tender, if anything), and completely stringless, even when they're quite long and bean-y. They are very early and vigorous, though it seems they go out of production as quickly as they come into production: The first sowing produced beans for about a month before declining (considerably less than, say, Kentucky wonder). But I sowed a second crop, and it's come into high production as the first crop declines. I don't know how heat- and drought-tolerant these beans are--likely not as tolerant as the Rattlesnake Beans. But the vines are deep green and pest/disease free now, after ten days of 88+ degrees and after some torrential rains, so, they're clearly tough beans!

I planted some Rattlesnakes last week, and they're already up, so I foresee several months of continuous bean production. This is my Fortex row. The vines are growing up seven-foot "walls" made of electrical conduit and concrete rebar wire sheets, and when they reached the top of the rebar, I wedged some branches into the wire and the beans continued merrily up to about twelve feet, still producing beans on their way up. I wonder: Do beans stop producing when they reach the top, or do they stop producing after X-days of production, because that's their phenotype, they just shut off?  

Finally, my tomatoes are a couple weeks behind (at least) after a cool and cloudy April, but they are full of fruit, and the first full-sized harvest is maybe a week away. I've been harvesting tomatoes from plants that I bought from Lowes earlier this spring--mostly Celebrity. Not my favorite variety, but very early and easy to find as seedlings. As always, I'd recommend Tomande, Juliet, and SunGold as my "go-to" varieties here in Florida.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Plum Season Has Begun

Again, the first fruit I would recommend in Central Florida is the plum. The Gulf Series isn't large (I think there are four kinds), but they are so fast to mature, so prolific, and so tasty. I got mine from Just Fruits, but I noticed trees at the local nursery... Grafting is always an issue, though, so I tend to stay true to Just Fruits.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Plums, cucumbers and some Juliet tomatoes

I've been harvesting cucumbers for a couple weeks now, and plums for about a week. The generic pickling cucumbers in the picture are pretty good and prolific, but I planted them in a bit too much sun for Florida. The Tasty Jade I'm growing in a bit more shade in the back patch are much better, more prolific. Those cucumbers are amazing: Long, sweet, basically seedless. The skin is spineless, but I think still needs to be peeled, as it's quite bitter. Anyway, the plums are excellent Florida plums--the flesh is a tiny bit mealy, but very sweet. The skin is tart. So, perfect for pies, but a little suboptimal for eating out of hand. (Don't get me wrong! Far better than any supermarket plum, but you're never going to get the same quality of flesh in Florida for peaches and plums that you get up North! These are early-May plums!)

I only grow the Gulf series plums--I have five trees, and they are prolific and ripen over the course of at least five weeks. Anyone looking for dooryard fruit couldn't do better... They hit "maturity" after two, maybe three years. Much earlier than even my Earligrande peach... And, as anyone who grows fruit can attest, the earlier, the better in Florida.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

First cucumber of the season...

I wish I remembered what kind... Suyo? Probably Southern Delight... in any case, this "style" of cucumber (Asian long) is the best for Central Florida potage... I grow mine up rebar trellises, and embrace the idea that you cannot overwater a cucumber... Lots more on the way.

Later: Tasty Jade. Almost certain it's a Tasty Jade. What a vigorous, fruitful, and early plant! From Johnnys.